Earlswood let lead slip as they exit cup
EARLSWOOD Town’s cup hopes were ended for another season with a 3-2 Les James Challenge Cup defeat at Central Ajax.
The Earls had hopes of progressing to the semi-finals of the competition and that belief was boosted by a two-goal lead at the halfway point courtesy of Harry Street and Joseph Drake-Cervantes.
But a formation change from the hosts at the break triggered a comeback within 20 minutes of the restart courtesy of Adam Taylor’s brace and a Shaye Eden strike.
Without top scorer Dan Elwell through illness, the Earls started brightly and Street went close early on only to be denied by a brilliant double save by Nathan Taylor.
However, the ever-energetic Street made no mistake in the 23rd minute, latching on to a through ball to calmly guide his effort beyond the Ajax keeper.
Drake-Cervantes got in in the act five minutes before the break. The ball found the midfielder six yards out and, at the second time of asking, he thumped his shot home.
At that stage, Earlswood seemingly had one foot in the semis of a competition that ultimately leads to Walsall’s Bescot Stadium. However, Ajax’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation changed the game.
Brad Littlehales was judged to have fouled in the box in the 49th minute and Taylor stepped up to convert before he doubled his tally in hauling Ajax level in the 56th minute, driving home from 18 yards. With 62 minutes on the clock, Eden edged the Warwick hosts ahead by converting from close range.
With winger Ibrihima Jobe on for his debut, the Earls searched for an equaliser to send the tie to spot-kicks but it never came leaving the club to exit their fourth and final knockout cup competition.
There was also disappointment for fellow MFL Division Two side Alcester Town who were knocked out of the same competition by league leaders Knowle 3-0.
On Saturday, the Earls return to league action as they welcome Inkberrow to The Yakinori Pavilions while Alcester Town play host to Littleton.