POSTED: October 31 2018 14:06:35. By Keith Long - Challenge Trophy Defeat For Beechy 1st Team

It was extremely difficult for Beechfield United's 1st Team players to actually believe they had lost their Saturday Challenge Trophy Quarter-final away tie with East Manchester. Some of the football from United in the first half was without question easily the best played by this Beechy team so far this season. Making a dream start United were leading 3-0 after only twelve minutes but Beechy couldn't maintain the momentum and East Manchester fought back and it finished 3-3 at the end of normal time. As per the competition rules extra time is not required so the teams were immediately faced with the dreaded penalty kick decider and East Manchester won the shoot-out 5-4. On the hosts 4G Astroturf pitch United quickly dictated the pace of the game and were gifted the lead in the 2nd minute. An East Manchester defender was guilty of a loose back pass intended for the keeper and Jordan Jones-Waite punished the error via a cool and accurate finish.

Gareth Mooney missed a great chance for an instant second goal then following a free kick to East Manchester midfield man Mike Phythian who was back defending produced a vital headed clearance. From his right back position Louis Duff got forward several times with solo runs and after he was fouled on eight minutes Beechy went 2-0 up. Jamie Sinnott took the free kick and he celebrated after seeing the ball fly into the net after it had deflected off an East Manchester player who was stood in the defensive wall. Four minutes later United added their third goal when Jamie Sinnott and Louis Duff exchanged passes down the right wing and a cross by the latter was controlled by Gareth Mooney who fired the ball low past the keeper. But East Manchester soon reduced the arrears after the hosts exploited a defensive weakness by Beechy and their No9 who beat the offside trap added the required finish to the move.

Boosted by the goal East Manchester moved the ball around with more accuracy forcing slightly more pressure on United's back of Louis Duff, Marcus Belcher, Luke Johnston and Carl Ravenscroft. Beechy keeper Andrew Richardson was on one occasion forced to race to the edge of the area to make a vital save with his feet when the East Manchester No10 chased a long ball overhit into United's half. Soon back on the attack United won a throw-in and Marcus Belcher quick thinking with the ball found Jamie Sinnott unmarked and the Beechy No9 got into a great shooting position but somehow an East Manchester defender deflected the ball for a corner. A great solo run by Gareth Mooney nearly got United a deserved fourth goal then a couple of minutes later a brilliant pass from Louis Duff sent Jamie Sinnott racing clear and he looked certain to score but the East Manchester keeper produced an excellent save. Carl Ravenscroft remained alert when the hosts created two counter-attacks down the right wing and Beechy's No3 responded with two timely interceptions.

The pace of this open attacking cup tie never relented as both teams competed fiercely for possession and United continually threatened another goal or two following more adventurous attacking play. Steven Erskine, Mike Phythian and Gareth Mooney still enjoyed a greater share of the ball and seconds before half time a thunderous low drive by the latter hit the post. Making a slow start to the second half Beechy were caught off balance and after forty nine minutes East Manchester got their second goal when at the end of a move down the right flank the ball was forced over the line by hosts No11. Steven Erskine's accurate crossfield pass onto Jordan Jones-Waite sent the Beechy No10 on a mazy run and the United striker's attempt to beat the keeper won his team another corner. Following a free kick on the halfway line the ball was floated deep into United's half and East Manchester's No8 left unmarked just outside the area saw his effort clear the crossbar.

Twice Marcus Belcher halted East Manchester attacks with two well timed ball winning tackles and Luke Johnston was also in action getting the ball out of the danger zone via vital headed clearances. A controversial decision by the referee denied United a clear-cut penalty after Jordan Jones-Waite was clearly fouled in quick succession by two East Manchester defenders. Then Beechy found themselves having to deal with a barrage of powerful non-stop attacks from their opponents and East Manchester equalised in the 65th minute. As they soaked up the heavy pressure United relied more on the quick counter-attack and another valid claim for a penalty following a foul on Gareth Mooney was waved away by the match official. East Manchester had a goal disallowed and inside the final five minutes Andrew Richardson made two top-class saves to guarantee that United still had a chance to win the tie via the penalty shoot-out.

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