POSTED: May 06 2021 22:45:14. By Keith Long
- Ladies Book Place in League Two Cup Final
On Wednesday evening 28th April 2021 in the Greater Manchester Womens League Beechfield United Ladies team booked their place in the League Two Cup final.
There was a slight hiccup before Beechy's semi-final tie with Curzon Ashton due to the arranged pitch for the match being double booked. The only other option was to play on a 9v9 pitch but after discussion's between the players, team officials and referee it was agreed that the game would go ahead. On the much smaller pitch the teams did their best to produce an entertaining ninety minutes and at the final whistle Beechy celebrated a 2-1 victory. Abi Thirsk was unavailable so Bethany Hill donned the keepers jersey and Beechy lined-up playing 4-3-3 with Hannah Walker, Shauna Smith, Rachel Farrand and Emily Walmsley the chosen back four. Curzon Ashton kicked-off the tie but Beechy created the first real attack and Aimee Greenwood won United their first corner inside the opening thirty seconds.
Keeping the pressure on their opponents Beechy took the lead in the 6th minute when Becky Topping ran onto an inch perfect pass from Stacy Partridge and slotted the ball low past the keeper. Just three minutes later Rachel Farrand started the move which resulted in Beechy going 2-0 up when she sent the ball onto to Mia Pemberton and her accurate low cross was met by Bechy Topping who added another decisive finish. A free kick taken by Curzon's No12 was confidently dealt with by Bethany Hill then Beechy's keeper had to sprint to the edge of the area to make a vital clearance as a lone Curzon forward chased the ball sent deep into Beechy's half. As expected the narrow pitch played a major part in spoiling the game and the action became congested in midfield as both teams worked overtime to win and retain possession.
A positive solo run by the Curzon No10 led to her deep curling cross forcing Bethany Hill to use fingertips to divert the ball to safety. Curzon's No7 & No11 were involved in some swift attacks through the midfield and twice Rachel Farrand made important fist time clearances. Emily, Hannah and Shauna were also called into action on several occasions especially when they dealt with long accurate kicks downfield by the Curzon keeper. Sian Anderson replaced Hannah Walker when Beechy made their first substitution and a minute later United nearly added a third goal when Nicola Campion sent a header just wide after another pinpoint cross from Mia Pemberton. During a spell when numerous free kicks were awarded to both teams Beechy made another tactical change and this time Sophie Wainwright took over from Aimee Greenwood. An effort by Curzon's No12 bounced on top of the crossbar then the same player reduced the arrears after the referee had awarded United's opponents a rather soft penalty.
Aimee Greenwood was back on the pitch for the start of the second half but it was Curzon who were quicker out of the starting blocks and a great last ditch tackle by Shauna Smith halted a surging solo run from the Curzon No11. A slick move involving Sophie Wainwright and Crystal Barker won Beechy their first corner in the second period then a terrific piece of skill by Becky Topping set-up Nicola Campion but Beechy's No9 fired the ball wide of the target. Curzon gradually put more pressure on Beechy's back four and twice in quick succession Rachel Farrand and Sian Anderson rescued United with more excellent defending. Beechy relied more on the counter-attack and one great move was ruined by the referee's whistle after Stacy Partridge's superb through ball sent Becky Topping racing clear but United's No10 was judged to be offside.
Curzon's enthusiasm to get an equalising goal was a big feature in the last quarter-hour and Bethany Hill was the busiest of the two keepers during that period. As both teams continued to compete fiercely for possession a free kick by Stacy Partridge hit the post before a late attacking surge from Curzon caused a few anxious moments for Beechy's back four but they managed to weather the storm and following the final whistle it was congratulations all-round.