EARLSWOOD Town were dumped out of the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup at the hands of FC Stratford on Saturday.
The 3-1 defeat was Earlswood’s second loss in the space of a month to Saturday’s opponents, with Tom Reynolds’ men unable to build on a second-half equaliser against the run of play from Harry Street.
Stratford were the side with the lion’s share of possession in the early exchanges, with the Earls very much content with staying rigid in their shape and frustrating the hosts.
Despite the slow start to proceedings, Stratford managed to find the opener through Dan Atkins’ header past Fraser Oliver from Ashley Wilkes’ set-piece delivery.
It was a rare moment of action in an opening half of few chances, though the Earls were denied a leveller by the raising of the linesman’s flag just before the break.
The second half appeared to be following in a similar vein to the first, with a ten-minute sin bin for player-manager Reynolds still failing to open up the game.
There was some irony, then, when Reynolds’ return to the pitch brought the Earlswood equaliser.
Within seconds of being waved back on, he instantly applied pressure to Stratford goalkeeper Luis Sone which resulted in Street tapping into an empty net.
The hosts’ came alive, unfortunately for the Earls, as a result of the leveller, with Tom Daccus stepping past a defender before firing home on his left foot.
Stratford killed off the game just four minutes later when a foul on Dan Atkins allowed the forward to slot home past Oliver and seal the hosts’ progression into the next round.
Earlswood visit Hampton on Saturday (3pm).