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Earlswood Town FC 0 Stafford Town FC 1: It's nip and tuck before Stafford find another gear to KO Earls

Earlswood Town FC 0 Stafford Town FC 1: The Earls bowed out of the Les James Challenge Cup by the only goal in a very evenly matched encounter.

The Earls bowed out of the Les James Challenge Cup by the only goal in a very evenly matched encounter.

Stafford had drubbed Atherstone 8–0 in their previous game but the Earls were more than just a match for the team from Division One.

Bradley Hall’s shot was saved by onrushing away keeper Richard Stone on 10 minutes.

Tom Weaver was called into action a few minutes later when Ashley Phillips found him as last man in the Earlswood defence.

He slowed play down sufficiently so that when the pass was made to Stafford captain, Morgan Hurley, Keith Draper was back to put pressure on the shot which went well wide.

Then on 25 minutes it was the Earls on the attack with Hall comfortably beating Stafford left back Richard Greaves.

His low-fired cross was met by Zak Lyons but his shot was blocked. Earlswood were taking control of the game by now but Stafford were still dangerous on the break.

On the half hour Keith Draper over hit a ball into the box which deceived Richard Stone and bounced off the crossbar.

But then, on the stroke of half time, Stafford won a free kick just outside the Earlswood area. The run by Grant Winwood was missed by everyone except Michael Meszaros who passed the ball into the area to Grant who managed to miss the target from five yards.

For the last five minutes of the first half Earlswood keeper David Hancock was clearly injured and had to be subbed at half time.

Matt Powell put on the gloves and came out to a baptism of fire as Stafford stepped it up after the break.

The pressure told when in the 57th minute Morgan Hurley found himself unmarked and headed in past Powell. Earlswood then started to take the game to Stafford with Artur Serzysko and Gareth Davies driving the team forward from the back but the only clear-cut chance was created when substitute John Flanagan flew past the left back and fired the ball across the goal for Bradley Hall to head just wide with the Stafford defence and keeper well beaten.

Earls play Hampton at home this Saturday, KO 2pm.

 

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