Midland League, Division Two
Earlswood Town 0
Northfield Town 1 (Adam Williams 5)
A FREAK goal early in the first half was enough to condemn Tom Reynolds’ new-look Earlswood Town to an opening day defeat at the hands of reigning Midland League Division Two champions Northfield Town.
The visitors took the lead in just the fifth minute when Adam Williams’ cross from the right-hand side looped over the Earlswood keeper and into the back of the net.
Ten minutes later Northfield nearly doubled their lead when player-manager Reynolds cleared an effort off the line, but eventually the Earls began to take a foothold in the game.
At the half-hour mark, a long throw-in was flicked on by Reynolds into the path of striker Andy Matthews who curled his effort just wide from 12 yards out.
Before the half was out, Matthews’ strike partner Joel Hughes had another chance to bring the hosts back on level terms.
Having picked up the ball in his own half, Hughes drove forward with a powerful run before cutting back inside and bending a right-footed effort wide of the far post.
Northfield were fastest out of the blocks after the break as they sought the second goal which would give them some much-needed breathing room.
And in the 55th minute they should have done exactly that, but the header from a whipped in free-kick was diverted into the side-netting from six yards out.
Five minutes later Earlswood brought on the experienced Gary Walker, formerly of Worcester City, and he got straight into the action, reacting first to a cleared corner and seeing his half volley go wide.
At this point the hosts were in the ascendancy and pushing for the all-important equaliser.
Cam Knight saw a vicious strike saved following a short corner routine before Brad Littlehales’ effort from outside of the box was deflected just wide.
However, their best chance of the game fell to midfielder Matt Green when he was played through on goal by Hughes, but his shot rolled tamely into the Northfield keeper’s arm.
Despite the late bombardment from the Earls, they could not find a way back into the match as Northfield started the defence of their title with a win.
Earlswood will be hoping to bounce back tomorrow, Wednesday, when they make the trip to Coventry Alvis (7.45pm kick-off).