FAIRFIELD Villa claimed a convincing victory over Pershore Town 88 in midweek to book their place in the semi-finals of the Smedley Crooke Challenge Cup, just days after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Moors Academy.
West Midlands Premier side Pershore stood in Fairfield’s way of progressing, but thankfully with a strong level of squad depth, Alex Dugmore and Alfie Bloomer as replacements for Reuben Wilson and Jarred Hill – who were ruled out, proved solid selections.
A 4-3-3 formation that looked to alternate the forward line of Ellis Blakemore, Dan Wilkes and Bloomer posed a real threat all afternoon, whilst the rest of the team were equally supportive in their attacking duties.
The hosts started strongest and wasted a key opening, but from then on Villa were by far the superior side.
A stunning stop by the Pershore keeper denied an opener, though it would only take 14 minutes for Dan Ludlow’s corner to meet the left boot of Dugmore – who smashed the ball home.
Fairfield built on that opener and went close through Wilkes’ chip that inched narrowly wide, before Bloomer fired home expertly inside the penalty area in the 21st minute.
Five minutes later it was three for the visitors, and effectively game over, Bloomer’s pass searching for full-back Lewis Phillips was belted past the goalkeeper from 25 yards out, a fine way to assert full control of the game.
A slight downside to the game before half-time fell Fairfield’s way when Wilkes went off with a hamstring pull, replaced by Alex Wilkes in the front three.
Pershore rallied in the second-half, desperate to claw themselves back into the contest, being denied time and again by Josh Goddard – producing two notable saves with lightning reflexes.
Another injury, this time to Ludlow followed in the final twenty minutes, as Villa were holding onto their clean sheet thanks to Goddard’s heroics.
Fairfield would see out the win, their place in the last four of the cup made all the more sweet by the clean sheet and by their nomination as the MFL Division 2 Team of the Month – after an unbeaten January.
It followed the disappointing 2-1 loss at Moors Academy on Saturday, who played beyond their years to outdo Villa.
Fairfield started the better side, and went ahead when Blakemore received a through ball to fire home after poor Moors defending.
They almost followed that up with a second from Blakemore, before Moors defender Cain Thomas’ header came off his own player and had to be cleared off the line.
Against the run of play, Villa conceded from Arman Khooshkoo’s header, undeserving of their play up to that point.
The goal rejuvenated the hosts after the break, with Fairfield firmly on the back foot, but still managed to crack two efforts at goal that were eventually kept out by keeper Ben Maxwell.
Then the killer blow for the away side, Reiss McNally bursting forward laid the ball off to Khooshkoo, who rounded Goddard for his second of the game.
Fairfield are next in action when they head to bottom side Earlswood Town (2:30pm) tomorrow.