High-flying Knowle end Earlswood Town's unbeaten home record
Earlswood Town 0-3 Knowle
Midland League, Division Two
EARLSWOOD Town saw their unbeaten home run come to an end as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of close rivals Knowle at The Pavilions.
Nathan Corry put the high-flying Robins ahead in the 29th minute but had it not been for Earls goalkeeper Paul Evans, the visitors could have found themselves more than a goal ahead at the interval.
The home side fought back strongly in the second half and were looking the better side but a Kartel O’Neil-Martin penalty in the 68th minute killed their momentum.
O’Neil-Martin then rounded off a fine Robins victory 14 minutes from time with a venomous shot into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the area.
Earlswood, who went on a ten-game unbeaten run after losing their opening fixture of the 2022-23 season at Bolehall Swifts, have now won just one of their last eight.
It had been a slow start for the hosts in front of a bumper crowd who braved the cold to get their first football fix of the new year.
Knowle were on the front foot off the off, with Jack Ricketts and Corry forcing smart saves out of Evans early doors.
The visitors continued to press but eventually the Earls grew into the game and in the 24th minute a neat passage of play ended with Joe Tobin finding some space on the right inside the area but he could only hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
Five minutes later the Earls found themselves behind. Charlie Morris’ deep in-swinging cross was met at the back post by Corry whose header managed to squeeze past Evans.
Morris was proving too hot to handle throughout and on two occasions in the latter stages of the half he breached the Earlswood defence, only to be denied by the impressive Evans.
Right on the stroke of half-time the Earls had a chance to get back on level terms from a corner but Thomas Kinsey headed straight at Robins goalkeeper Craig Johnson.
Tom Reynolds’ men showed some spirit in the second half and Michael Bridges came close to restoring parity in the 55th minute but his dipping volley from 25 yards out was expertly pushed away by Johnson.
John Palmer then shot wide as the Earls continued to pile on the pressure.
However, with 24 minutes remaining Knowle were awarded a penalty after Reece Staley was clipped from behind and O'Neil-Martin took the ensuing spot-kick, confidently firing high into the top right-hand corner to give his side some breathing room.
The goal came as a bitter blow for an Earls side that had been growing into the contest and in the 76th minute their first home defeat of the campaign was confirmed.
Jack Mullen led the counter-attack from an Earlswood free-kick and he laid the ball into the path of O’Neil-Martin who cut inside his man, ran along the edge of the area and then arrowed a pile-driver into the top right-hand corner to round off the afternoon's scoring.
The Earls, who sit eighth in the Midland League Division Two table, make the trip to Inkberrow on Saturday (2pm kick-off).
EARLSWOOD TOWN: Paul Evans, Joe Tobin, James Wright, John Palmer, Tom Reynolds, Reece Rawlings (Nicholas Cox 54), Louis Bridges, Leadun Dunlevy (Ashley Weeks 85), Thomas Kinsey (Matt Pemberton 76), Michael Bridges (Ryan Mountford 69), Tom Millard (Archie Spittle-McGuire 65). Unused subs: None
KNOWLE: Craig Johnson, Ben Jones (Ramarlo Barrett 78), Hayden Seymour, Lewis Clarke, Christian McArdle, Dylon Bennett, Charlie Morris (Mike Jennings 74), Jack Ricketts, Jack Mullen, Kartel O’Neil-Martin, Nathan Corry (Reece Staley h/t). Unused sub: Matt Seeley.