EAGLE at last inflicted defeat on Knutsford, their third attempt this season sending their guests out of the JB Parker Challenge Cup 2-1 at the weekend.

As holders, the Warrington outfit had an extra incentive to win this last eight clash.

It leaves Reds in unfamiliar territory after back-to-back defeats, although the contest was close enough to give manager Paul Schofield comfort.

They dominated the opening exchanges, Lee Mannion and Lee Shakoor going closest following fine approach play by winger Carlos Edmondson and then Ebi Rezayan.

Eagle edged ahead though on 35 minutes when Richard Smart diverted Nathan Williams’ assist past goalkeeper Mark Higgs.

Shakoor should have equalised soon afterwards, but shot weakly, then Reds’ net-minder kept his team in the contest with a fine save from close range.

Michael Cartner was next to go close for Knutsford at the start of the second half, turning provider for Edmondson to head the equaliser five minutes after the restart.

Reds had an appeal for a penalty rejected too as they assumed control, sending on Tom Schofield for a cameo as they probed for a decisive second goal.

However they were punished for defensive distraction when Simon Williamson conceded a cheap free kick, Ged McAllister heading home at the near post from Williams’ cross.

Rezayan fluffed Knutsford’s best chance to force extra time, blazing too high from inside the penalty area before Smart sent a header narrowly off target with time running out.

Eagle’s reward is a semi finals date with strugglers Lostock Gralam, while Warrington outfit Rylands host Linotype in the other last four clash after Christmas.

Reds’ lead at the Division One sumit remains at seven points following Saturday’s league games.

Knutsford Higgs (GK), Jenyons (Jones), Bowyer, Smart, Williamson, Cartner, Mannion, Warburton, Rezayan (Michael Schofield), Edmondson, Shakoor (Tom Schofield). Sub not used Lewis.