POSTED: May 08 2018 18:37:07. By Keith Long - Steeles Shield Cup Final Defeat For Beechy

Beechfield United's Saturday Morning Senior Team ended a difficult 2017/2018 season when they met Hazel Grove in the Steeles Shield final on Wednesday 11th April. At the home of West Didsbury and Chorlton FC Beechy produced a superb hard working performance against Manchester Saturday Morning Football League's Division 1 champions but United lost the final 3-1. Hazel Grove had beaten United twice following their league fixtures so Beechy knew they faced a tough challenge if they were going to lift the winners trophy. Making a positive start United were on the attack straight from the kick-off and a slick move between Wes Pierce and Kyle Wray won Beechy an early corner. Matthew McCusker linked-up with Scott Foulds on the right wing and a cross from the latter forced a hasty clearance by Hazel Grove's No5. A quick counter-attack on their right wing by Hazel Grove almost caught United's defenders napping but the ball driven across the area just failed to reach the unmarked No8.

United went a goal down after six minutes when the unfortunate Tim McQueeney was judged by the referee to be guilty of deliberate handball and Hazel Grove's No4 hammered home the spot-kick. Quickly forgetting the setback Beechy searched for an instant equaliser and Max Leonard intercepting a loose cross field pass set-up Ben Donohue who's effort was well saved by the Hazel Grove keeper. Then Roy Owen got into a shooting position on the edge of the area and won a corner off the keepers outstretched right arm. But United were soon having to do some vital defending and both Daniel Eckersley and Matthew Swift made several winning tackles when under pressure. At the end of a quick breakaway move Beechy forced another corner and a shot by Scott Foulds deflected off Ben Donohue forcing the keeper to palm the ball over the crossbar. Continuing to play with total confidence Hazel Grove always threatened to increase their lead but United never allowed their opponents the opportunity to totally dominate the game.

In the midfield area Matthew McCusker was always at the heart of the action and his pass to Scott Foulds sent the Beechy man on another mazy run that ended with a pinpoint cross and Wes Pierce headed the ball into the side netting. Daniel Eckersley rescued United with more no nonsense defending during another period of powerful attacking play from Hazel Grove. Max Leonard wasted a decent chance to get Beechy back level and close to half time the Hazel Grove No15 missed an opportunity for 2-0 when left unmarked inside the area. John Bolton replaced Tim McQueeney at the start of the second half and United were quickly having to defend a free kick conceded near the halfway line. There was a slice of luck regarding Hazel Grove's second goal when following an attempted clearance by Matthew Swift the ball spun back over the head of Beechy keeper Dan Lee and into the net. A linesman's raised flag indicating offside halted Max Leonard's well timed run onto a great through ball from John Bolton.

An effort on target by Ben Donohue was diverted for a corner then a thunderous drive from Daniel Eckersley brought the best out of the Hazel Grove keeper. United made a couple of substitutions replacing Roy Owen and Matthew Swift with Joe Poyser and Gareth Burns. Wasted possession on the halfway line allowed Hazel Grove the chance to build another swift attack and the move led to a fairly easy finish for Grove's No7 who made it 3-0. A couple of minutes later the same player almost scored again when his curling free kick bounced off the top of the crossbar. As they continued to display great character United deserved a goal and their genuine appeal that the ball had crossed the line at the end of a counter-attack was waved away. Using the roll-on-roll-off substitute rule United sent on Kyle Walton who took up a defensive role in place of Tim McQueeney. Ben Donohue fired the ball wide following a corner and Matthew McCusker also missed the target after controlling a pass from John Bolton. Hazel Grove forced more heavy defending from Beechy who finally got what proved to be a fully deserved consolation goal in the 88th minute via Player of the Match Daniel Eckersley.

The players collected their runners-up trophies during a presentation ceremony after the final.

United's squad for the final was: Tim McQueeney, Matthew McCusker, Max Leonard, Kyle Wray, Dan Lee, Matthew Swift, Kyle Walton, John Bolton, Daniel Eckersley, Wes Pierce. Scott Foulds, Joe Poyser, Roy Owen, Ben Donohue, Gareth Burns plus Manager Graham Rothwell and Assistant Karl Stott.

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