POSTED: April 07 2017 23:29:33. By Keith Long
- Semi-Final Agony For Saturday Morning Seniors
Having already booked their place in the Steeles Shield Final Beechfield United Saturday Morning Senior Team were confident of reaching the final of the prestigious Manchester Evening News Cup but Beechy missed the opportunity of a possible Trophy winning double when they lost their semi-final tie against West Didsbury 2-0. Obviously this was a disappointing result for United who produced a top-quality first half display but their second half performance was slightly below-par. Playing in midfield Damon Whitbread was at the heart of some positive early attacks from Beechy in the opening few minutes. West Didsbury replied posing a few defensive problems for Beechy's back four and Daniel Eckersley made a couple of vital clearances when under pressure. A surging run by Wes Pierce created a chance for Kane Brannigan who's effort was deflected for a corner. Another low drive from Kane hit the outside of the post following great skill by Scott Foulds.
The majority of West Didsbury's counter-attacks developed down the left flank and on one occasion their number fourteen saw a long range effort curl wide of the target. As they upped the tempo United adapted well to playing on an uneven pitch and Beechy's next goal scoring opportunity fell to Roy Owen who glanced a header inches wide following a corner. United's keeper Dan Lee was called into action making a confident save after West Didsbury had been awarded another direct free kick. Playing at left back was Callum Holmes who linked up superbly with Damon Whitbread as Beechy stepped up a gear but Damon fired the ball straight at the keeper. Daniel Eckersley hammered a long range shot narrowly past the post, Roy Owen's close range effort hit a defender then following a free kick taken by Wes Pierce a header by Ben Donohue dropped over the crossbar.
Following a claim for a penalty for handball United suddenly found themselves in a more defensive mode as West Didsbury looked a greater threat going forward forcing Beechy's back four of John Bolton, Daniel Eckersley, Kyle Walton and Callum Holmes to deal with some heavy pressure. Didsbury's number sixteen fired the ball past Dan Lee but the goal was disallowed because he was clearly stood in an offside position when he received the ball. HT 0-0. Finding a good rhythm straight from the restart West Didsbury forced mistakes from a few Beechy players who gave the ball away far too easily. But there were still a few crisp and accurate passing moves from United and Wes Pierce almost put Beechy ahead but he was denied a goal by a flying save from the Didsbury keeper.
Intelligent off the ball running by Didsbury's front men tested United's defenders and Beechy found themselves a goal down in the 53rd minute. Didsbury forced a corner and though the ball was headed out of the area it dropped in front of Didsbury's number eleven who hammered it low through a group of Beechy players and into the corner of the net. Looking rather shell-shocked after conceding the goal United made a tactical change that saw Tim McQueeney replacing Roy Owen. Under pressure Beechy conceded far to many free kicks and slack marking gifted a free header to Didsbury's number seven who scored from close range but his celebrations were short lived when a linesmen flagged for offside. Just after the hour mark a goalmouth scramble developed and shots by Damon Whitbread and Wes Pierce were blocked but overall United's finishing was rather erratic.
Ian Black replaced Kyle Walton in another reshuffle but Beechy continued to show a lack of basic ideas and teamwork. West Didsbury were guaranteed victory with a second goal on seventy five minutes when their left back sent an accurate long ball onto the Didsbury No7 who produced a burst of speed down the left wing and his cross into the area was met by a team mate who had timed his run perfectly and he had an easy close range finish. Far too many stoppages ruined the match in the last ten minutes and after making a third substitution when Dave Harrison took over from John Bolton United kept attacking at every opportunity and won numerous free kicks. Both Kane Brannigan and Ian Black took responsibility of taking a couple of free kicks but poor finishing wasted the outside chance of forcing at least a draw and forcing extra time. (Match Played on Saturday 1st April 2017)