Despite a brilliant all-round performance Beechfield United were knocked out of the Gilgryst Cup following a penalty-shoot out against Wilmslow Albion who had home advantage for this First Round tie that finished 1-1.
United’s midfield trio of Steven Erskine, Chris Ferris and Mike Phythian were soon involved in the match as Beechy created some superb attacking play on a pitch that was slightly uneven in places. It was Wilmslow Albion who almost grabbed the lead following a free kick but their main striker who was left unmarked headed the ball wide of the target.
Playing on the right wing was Alfie Belcher and he gave the Wilmslow left back a torrid time via some mazy runs as United continued to produce some first-class soccer but Beechy found themselves a goal down in the 14th minute after being guilty of a piece of bad defending. Briefly after the goal Wilmslow enjoyed more of the ball but United defended superbly and when Beechy slowly found their rhythm again both full backs Mike Rogerson and Andrzej Browne enjoyed the freedom to overlap down the flanks.
At the end of a quick move through midfield a neat header by Alex Hunter set-up a chance for Jamie Sinnott who’s first time effort curled just wide. Alfie Belcher had United’s next scoring opportunity but he hammered the ball past the post then Alex Hunter wasted a decent chance with only the keeper to beat. Eventually Beechy found a deserved equaliser on forty-three minutes when Mike Rogerson’s accurate cross was controlled by Mike Phythian who fired the ball across the area and Alfie Belcher had an easy close range finish.
Forcing a corner in the first minute of the second half Wilmslow Albion put Beechy under pressure but play quickly switched to the other end of the pitch and United were denied a penalty following a deliberate foul on Chris Ferris. Keeper Robert Harrison made a brilliant save to deny Wilmslow’s number ten a goal prior to Jamie Sinnott wasting a golden opportunity after a cleverly disguised pass from Mike Phythian.
As they continued to dominate possession United created chances galore and Jamie Sinnott was guilty of another glaring miss then Alfie Belcher suffered the same fate minutes later. Suddenly Wilmslow Albion looked a greater threat going forward and Beechy’s back four of Andrzej Browne, Man of the Match Gary Wallis, Luke Johnston and substitute Carl Ravenscroft had to deal with some unwanted pressure.
But United always had the ability to turn defence into attack and producing more brilliant soccer Beechy should have guaranteed themselves victory well before the end of the ninety minutes.
Great skill by Jamie Sinnott went unrewarded as United’s team captain fired the ball over the crossbar then in the closing stages following Luke Johnston’s accurate throw-in the unmarked Alex Hunter headed the ball wide of the target.
No extra time was required so it was straight into the dreaded spot-kick decider but United lost the shoot-out 4-2.