January 04 2017 14:35:18.
By Keith Long
- Brilliant Beechy End The Year On A High
After two weeks without a game Beechfield United's First Team were back in action on New Years Eve and following a superb all-round display ended 2016 with a fully deserved 2-1 away win over Manchester Central. This Manchester Football League Division 1 fixture was played at the Regional Athletics Stadium which is adjacent to the Etihad Stadium home of Manchester City FC. On a excellent pitch Beechy who had a full strength squad available quickly found a good attacking rhythm and won the games first corner but United found themselves a goal down in the sixth minute.
Moving the ball accurately out of defence the home side created a neat quick passing move down the left flank and when the ball was delivered into the area Beechy were guilty of slack defending and Manchester Central's number eight was gifted a simple close range finish. United keeper Robert Harrison made a couple of first-class saves as Manchester Central briefly kept the pressure on United's back four of Mike Rogerson, Gary Wallis, Luke Johnston and Carl Ravenscroft.
But Beechy found an equaliser on fourteen minutes when Alfie Belcher was fouled by Central's left back and from the free kick Jamie Sinnott curled the ball into the area and Kurtis Lee rose up highest and powered a header into the net. A couple of minutes later producing a great piece of skill was Alfie Belcher who looked certain to score but he was denied a goal by an acrobatic save from Central's versatile keeper. Creating more impressive well-crafted moves Central forced several corners and free kicks that tested United's ability to defend against set-pieces.
The fast action zoomed rapidly from end to end and Beechy grabbed the lead after thirty two minutes following another blatant foul on Alfie Belcher. The Jamie Sinnott/Kurtis Lee combination proved successful once again when the latter timed his run into the area and brilliantly slotted the ball past a stranded keeper. After the goal United threatened to increase their lead with Rob Lockley, Steven Erskine and Chris Ferris frequently involved in some highly impressive counter-attacks. On forty two minutes Beechy were victim of a harsh decision by the match official who though badly positioned awarded Central a penalty after he deemed Luke Johnston had fouled Central's main striker.
The decision was hotly disputed but justice was served when Robert Harrison guessed correctly and saved the resulting spot-kick taken by the home teams number nine. Andrzej Browne replaced Mike Rogerson at the start of the second half and as expected United's opponents made a fast start once the match resumed. Manchester Centrals number ten had a chance to fire his team level but quick thinking by Gary Wallis blocked his effort and the ball was cleared for a throw-in. Man of the Match Carl Ravenscroft made some vital interceptions and superb ball winning tackles when Central briefly directed the majority of their attacks down the right flank.
Gradually Beechy got more joy going forward and almost added a third goal when Steven Erskine supplied a brilliant defence splitting pass but after Alfie Belcher knocked the ball past the keeper it bounced inches the wrong side of the post. On sixty nine minutes United made their second substitution sending on Craig Massey for Steven Erskine and with almost his first touch Craig glanced a header at the target but the keeper made a fine one handed save. Stepping up a gear Manchester Central rarely wasted possession as they worked hard to find an equaliser and under pressure Beechy at times had all eleven players back defending in their own half.
United made a third tactical change on seventy eight minutes when Chris Ferris was replaced by Patrick Beckett who was quickly involved in the action. Restricted to using the long ball tactic United rarely created a worthwhile move and inside the final ten minutes Beechy faced non-stop attacking from their opponents but displaying a never say die attitude United defended superbly and collecting the three points made it three games unbeaten.