A MUCH changed Earlswood Town took an inexperienced side to Fairfield Villa and came away with nothing following a narrow 3-2 defeat in the Midland League Division Two.
Earlswood kicked off with a strong wind in their favour and went straight into the Fairfield penalty area to go ahead in the first minute.
After a mix up in the home defence the ball went out to Declan Stornton who despatched the ball past the Fairfield keeper into the corner of the net.
After this Earlswood pushed forward but the home team hit Earls on a counter attack and a good cross was sent over from the right which Rowan Sullivan did well to clear.
Earls striker Don Lawrence was sent away by Ben Johnson after 11 minutes but the Fairfield keeper did well to come out and smother the ball. The visitors were finding their players well and equalised in the 25th minute when a header came back off the Earlswood cross bar and there was a player on hand to hit the rebound into the net.
Towards the end of the first half Earls battled hard to add to their score but the Fairfield defence were resolute.
At the other end Fairfield had a penalty shout turned down by the referee as one of their players went down in the area and the half ended 1-1.
With the wind in their favour the more experienced Fairfield team had more of the play after the break but Earlswood defended well with keeper Dan Rushe making a series of good saves.
At the other end Earlswood did have the ball in the net after 51 minutes but were ruled offside by an assistant referee and two minutes later a Matt Green free kick was headed just wide by Jamie Corrigan.
But generally the home side were on top with Rushe the busier keeper of the two.
Fairfield went in front on the 72nd minute when they were awarded a corner and although Rushe got his hands to the ball among a ruck of players an opposing forward managed to head home.
Earls came more into the game after this and were awarded two free kicks just outside the Fairfield penalty area the last one being put out for a corner in the 80th minute.
It was taken from the left and Mathew Boyce rose high to head the ball into the net. Earls brought on a defender after this to try and hold on to a hard earned point but Fairfield pushed hard for the winner which came after a foul committed by an Earlswood defender in the 86th minute and the resultant free kick was deflected into the Earlswood net for the home team to take the points.