POSTED: April 12 2018 19:35:25. By Keith Long - Beechfield Ladies Involved in Double-Header

After a month without a game Beechfield United Ladies were back in action in the Greater Manchester Womens League on Sunday 8th April 2018 and due to a fixture pile-up played a double-header against AFC Urmston Meadowside. Both games were scheduled for a period of thirty minutes each way and Meadowside won the first game 2-1 but Beechy won the second game 3-2. There was a minutes applause prior to the first game in memory of Meadowside U9's coach Nick Eley who died in a tragic accident recently. Meadowside enjoyed the bulk of possession in the early stages of the opening game and the visitors No7 featured prominently in a swift counter-attack but Beechy keeper Rachel Howarth made a comfortable save at the end of the move. Some solid defending from Player of the Match Krystal Haywood, Elina Parker and Debbie Winterburn dealt with a few more promising moves from the visitors down both flanks. An attack involving Sophie Wainwright, Becky Topping and Natasha Herity almost gave United the lead after thirteen minutes.

Nicole Leonard made good use of the ball on a few occasions and her forward pass to Natasha Herity set-up another scoring opportunity. After racing onto a cleverly disguised through ball from Julie Ward Beechy's main striker Debbie Wright hit her effort wide just before Urmston Meadowside took the lead. Shauna Smith replaced Nicole Leonard when United made their first tactical change and the substitute took on a defenders role. After a short break the match resumed and Meadowside briefly forced Beechy into a more defensive mode but Beechy had the ability to counter-attack their opponents with Natasha Herity always involved. Becky Topping easily beat two players before supplying a inch perfect pass to Debbie Wright who was just off target with a first time effort. Despite an improvement in their overall performance Beechy went 2-0 down and were lucky not to concede a third goal when Meadowside were awarded a penalty but the visitors No15 side footed the ball straight at Rachel Howarth.

In another reshuffle Becky Topping and Sophie Wainwright made way for Joanna Szafranska and Faye Cassidy. Eventually following a better spell of controlled attacking play United reduced the arrears when Debbie Wright took advantage of a mistake by the Meadowside keeper and slotted the ball into the net from close range. But the visitors quickly put the pressure back onto Beechy once again relied on a now back four of Krystal Haywood, Elia Parker, Debbie Winterburn and Shauna Smith. The referee blew for full time but the players knew there was still another sixty minutes left to play.

When the second game got underway Beechy Ladies were quick to find a good attacking rhythm and in United's first attack a deep cross from Sophie Wainwright was volleyed wide by Natasha Herity. Meadowside's first chance of a goal came via their No11 who was allowed to run unchallenged into the area but she couldn't add the required finish. Suddenly United's defensive quartet sampled some unwanted pressure but Beechy responded and grabbed the lead following a great piece of skill by Natasha Herity who's cross was half cleared towards the edge of the area where Julie Ward was quickest to the ball and she fired it low into the net for 1-0. Meadowside came close to getting back level minutes later when their best player the No7 ran forty yards through midfield and seemed likely to score but Rachel Howarth made an excellent save. Another strong run and pinpoint cross by Natasha Herity forced a goalmouth scramble and after the ball bounced out of the area Nicole Leonard sent it back to Debbie Wright who slotted it low into the net for Beechy's second goal.

United dealt more confidently with Meadowside's counter-attacks via some no nonsense defending especially from Debbie Winterburn. An own goal gifted United a 3-0 lead and Beechy looked well in control when the referee ended the first half. A few wasted over hit passes frustrated Beechy and Meadowside took advantage when they reduced the arrears early in the second period. Rachel Howarth rescued United with a brilliant save prior to a tactical change that saw Sue Howard replace Elina Parker. A second goal for Urmston Meadowside threatened to take the gloss off United's comfortable looking half time lead but as previously demonstrated Beechy always had the ability to quickly play counter-attacking football. Player of the Match Julie Ward continued to produce a high energy display, Krystal Haywood was a key figure in defence and Rachel Howarth made a vital save in the last ten minutes.

Beechy Ladies Squad for both games was: Rachel Howarth, Krystal Haywood, Elina Parker, Debbie Winterburn, Julie Ward, Natasha Herity, Becky Topping, Sophie Wainwright, Nicole Leonard, Shauna Smith, Debbie Wright, Sue Howard, Johanna Szafranska, Faye Cassidy.

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