KNUTSFORD FC’S campaign in the JA Walton Challenge Cup has ended at the first hurdle.

With the Manchester Road pitch still waterlogged, Reds moved their first-round tie against St Michaels DH to the all-weather surface at Moss Farm in order to ensure it went ahead.

And despite making a strong start and taking the lead, they subsided to a 2-1 defeat with all three goals coming inside the first half-hour.

With the luxury of being able to name an almost full-strength side, Knutsford made a bright start and were rewarded 17 minutes in when Matt Mountney finished well after the ball found him at the near post.

Unfortunately, however, it was an advantage that was to last just three minutes.

The visitors restored parity when Knutsford could only half-clear a cross, allowing Ben Mahoney to score from close range.

Reds responded well to the setback, with Jonny Cavanagh sending a glorious chance wide with the goal at his mercy while what appeared to be a strong penalty shout was turned down.

Fittingly, they were then hit with a sucker-punch as St Michael’s countered sharply and Mahoney netted his second of the afternoon.

The second half saw Knutsford’s attempts to get back into the game thwarted by a well-organised visiting outfit, who absorbed everything that came their way.

Chances did eventually start to come, with Brandon Blaydes twice forcing saves out of the St Michael’s keeper while substitute Charlie Rodick also went close.

However, their efforts were in vain as St Michaels were able to hold on for victory.

Reds will know look to pick themselves up on Saturday as they face Stockport Georgians Reserves in the Cheshire Amateur Cup.

Knutsford: Smith, Wilbraham, Brotherton, Maunder, Mawdsley (Blades), Fregapane, Kennedy (Davis), Cavanagh, Sheldon (Rodick), Slamani, Mountney (Woodward)