October 01 2018 08:29:12.
By Keith Long
- Star Striker Max Leonard Nets Four in 5-2 Win
Beechfield United Saturday Morning Senior Team continued with their impressive start to the season thanks to a 5-2 home win over Baguley Athletic. Despite having to make a few changes United still kicked-off with a strong line-up on view and took the lead after just five minutes. The ball was worked down the left flank and after a Beechy move initially broke down a Baguley defender’s loose back pass was intercepted by Max Leonard who punished the error for the opening goal. The visitors responded with some strong attacking play and following their use of the favoured long ball tactic United keeper Chris Pollock was called into action and had to produce a couple of smart saves. Baguley Athletic continued to move the ball around with real confidence on the artificial surface and at the end of one flowing move the visitors No11 was just off target with a long-range effort. Then Beechy had a great chance to add a second goal after Damon Whitbread and Scott Foulds combined but after timing his run into the area Max Leonard fired a cross from Scott over the crossbar. Behind most of Baguley’s best moves was their No7 and especially in the first half he was a constant threat with numerous jinking runs and from his side footed pass on twelve minutes a team mate wasted a great opportunity to equalise. More solid defending from Kyle Walton and Matthew Swift foiled the visitors attempt to get back level and when United mounted their next attack just after Milan Bajgai attempted to score from a tight angle Beechy made their first substitution when Ben Rothwell went off injured and was replaced by Wes Pierce. Following a corner Baguley Athletic had another decent chance to draw level but a Beechy defender managed to clear the ball via a high booted clearance.
The hectic pace created in this Division 1 game never relented and after displaying great footwork on the ball Kyle Mears set-up Max Leonard, but his fierce low drive was saved by the keeper with his feet. Dean Quinn replaced Milan Bajgai just before Beechy added their second goal in the 19th minute via Max Leonard who took full advantage of another glaring defensive mistake before producing a cool and accurate finish. Baguley Athletic almost reduced the arrears when a counter-attack down the left wing resulted in the ball reaching the visitors No6 who’s effort hit the post and luckily Damon Whitbread got to the rebound first and made a hasty clearance. On twenty-nine minutes United went 3-0 up when an inch perfect pass from Dean Quinn was controlled by Max Leonard and Beechy’s in-form striker completed a brilliant hat-trick via another first-class finish. Baguley Athletic pulled a goal back within minutes and though a couple of Beechy players appealed for offside the referee waved play on and the visitors No8 scored from close range. Quickly forgetting the brief setback United regained their three-goal advantage thanks to a fourth goal for Man of the Match Max Leonard who added an excellent finish to a brilliant move involving Damon Whitbread and Scott Foulds. United were certainly good value for their 4-1 half time lead though Beechy faced some early pressure after the restart and Baguley Athletic had a couple of half chances at the start of the second half but in the 49th minute United got goal number five thanks to good play from Wes Pierce who’s low cross into the area was diverted past the keeper by Oliver Brown. The visitors quickly forced successive corners and Dean Quinn on defensive duty made two superb headed clearances when under pressure.
Max Leonard continued to be the main danger man to United’s opponents mainly due to his unselfish running off the ball that proved to be a nightmare for the Baguley defenders. Chris Pollock made two difficult saves look easy when the visitors maintained a good and fast attacking tempo and the Baguley No11 blasted the ball high over the crossbar then Matthew Swift rescued Beechy with another piece of terrific defending. United needed to increase their work rate during a period when their opponents continued to enjoy more of the ball as they created chances after forcing a flux of free kicks and corners. When Baguley Athletic got their second goal their No14 appeared to be stood in an offside position when he received the ball, but he advanced down the pitch and his pinpoint cross was volleyed into the net by the visitors No16. Beechy maintained control of the contest and despite not creating a similar all-round performance as seen in the first forty-five minutes continued to produce some great football and there were chances on offer to add further goals during a late attacking surge. Referee Roy Bowden had a very good game and sensibly kept his cards in his pocket.