POSTED: April 27 2019 22:31:11. By Keith Long
- Gilgryst Cup Glory On The Horizon For 1st Team
Beechfield United's 1st Team booked their place in the Gilgryst Cup final following a brilliant all-round performance in their semi-final tie against Manchester Central who had home advantage in what turned out to be an highly entertaining contest. Producing football of the highest quality throughout the first half Beechy thoroughly deserved their 2-0 lead at the break but Manchester Central fought back in the second half and the teams shared a 2-2 score line at the final whistle. As per competitions rules extra time was not required and following a penalty kick decider United celebrated after winning the shoot-out 3-2. In perfect weather conditions and on their opponents 4G Astroturf Pitch Beechy had to deal with some early pressure from the hosts and both Mike Rogerson and Marcus Belcher made superb headed clearances. After Central's No10 had wasted a decent chance from close range United gradually got into their stride and playing with real zest and aggression Beechy went close to taking an early lead. A great move involving Louis Duff and Jamie Sinnott forced a Central defender to concede a corner then superb link-up play between Louis Duff, Ethan Birds and Jordan Jones-Waite saw Jamie Sinnott's fierce drive curl just wide of the target. Racing onto a long ball hit from deep by the hosts No3 Central's No10 thought he had opened the scoring but United keeper Robert Harrison made a fine reflex save.
Continually winning possession in a congested midfield Steven Erskine, Matthew McNally and Ethan Birds outplayed their counterparts with the latter making numerous ball winning tackles. A well operated offside tactic by United frustrated Central especially their No11 who made some good runs off the ball and when the hosts opted for balls pumped forward in the air Marcus Belcher and Luke Johnston confidently dealt with the threat. A superb diagonal long ball from Carl Ravenscroft carved out a good shooting opportunity for Beechy's captain Jamie Sinnott who hammered the ball over the crossbar. Central's keeper appeared to clearly foul Jordan Jones-Waite inside the area in the 18th minute but the referee waved away United's appeal for a penalty. The pace of the tie was of a frantic nature and due to the high temperature the players welcomed a short water break. When the match restarted Beechy quickly put Central under pressure again and during a move down the left flank Jamie Sinnott's cross into the area was met by Matthew McNally who's header hit the post with the keeper beaten.
Creating a couple of rare counter-attacks Manchester Central forced important first time clearances from just outside the area by Mike Rogerson and Marcus Belcher. Louis Duff controlled a pass from Steven Erskine and sped past the hosts No3 but when in a good position the Beechy youngster blasted the ball straight at the keeper. Central's main threat going forward during the first half came via long kicks from their keeper but United's superbly organised back four Mike Rogerson, Marcus Belcher, Man of the Match Luke Johnston and Carl Ravenscroft remained impressively well organised. Making another terrific tackle was Ethan Birds who sent the ball onto Louis Duff and he in turn angled it across to Jamie Sinnott who won Beechy a free kick in the 34th minute. The responsibility of taking the free kick went to Jordan Jones-Waite and United's No10 casually curled the ball past Central's defensive wall and the keeper into the bottom corner of the net in to give Beechy a fully deserved lead. Robert Harrison was called into action making a fairly comfortable save prior to United goal 2-0 up after thirty nine minutes.
After winning the ball in midfield Steven Erskine sent a perfectly weighted long pass onto Jordan Jones-Waite and evading a defenders rash challenge Beechy's main striker set-up Matthew McNally for a side footed low finish. Displaying more real aggression all over the pitch Beechy kept the pressure on their opponents and in quick succession Luke Johnston was involved in the action in both penalty areas. Firstly he produced three great pieces of defending then following a corner to United the Central keeper saved Luke's header almost on the goal line. Within minutes of the restart Beechy came under pressure as Central looked fired up after a stern half time talk from their Manager. There was suddenly a different pattern to this tie and two top-class saves by Robert Harrison rescued United following some fine quick passing moves from the hosts. Avoiding two strong challenges Jamie Sinnott managed to angle the ball into the path of Jordan Jones-Waite who just failed to hit the target. Facing a greater attacking threat from a renewed Central outfit Beechy's back four were tested to the limit.
On sixty three minutes the hosts reduced the arrears when after receiving the ball just inside United's half Daniel Burns created a mazy solo run and Central's No10 added a decisive finish with his left foot. Soon after conceding the goal Beechy made a tactical change when United Manager Steven Erskine was replaced by Kurtis Lee who took on an attacking role. The hot weather continued to test the players stamina and United caused themselves a few unwanted problems by giving away far too many unnecessary free kicks. Beechy created numerous counter-attacks without getting many efforts on target though one good cross by Louis Duff almost found Kurtis Lee who was left unmarked in the area. More pressure from Central finally paid dividends in the 81st minute when Liam Ellis was given both time and space to receive a pass across the area then fire the ball low past Robert Harrison for 2-2. End to end action during the last few minutes failed to provide a winning goal in normal time and with extra time not required the teams were immediately faced with a penalty kick decider.
As the drama unfolded Jamie Sinnott saw his penalty saved, the hosts No15 put Central a goal ahead, Carl Ravenscroft's spot-kick was saved, diving to his right Robert Harrison was unlucky when he just failed to prevent Central's No2 from putting the hosts 2-0 up, Kurtis Lee easily scored from the spot, Central's No12 watched in disbelief as his effort hit the crossbar, Matthew McNally stepped up and easily levelled the score, Robert Harrison became United's hero making another well judged save to deny Central's No11, Jordan Jones-Waite guaranteed Beechy's place in the final when he scored via a cool and accurate spot-kick. United will play Rochdale Sacred Heart in the final on Saturday 11th May at the home of Hyde United FC Kick-Off is 3pm.