MISSED early chances proved costly for Shawbury United as they crashed out of the TJ Vickers Shropshire Challenge Cup following a 3-1 defeat at North West Counties League side Whitchurch Alport.

And for manager Dave Richards, attention now turns to Saturday’s MFL Premier clash with visitors Coventry United.

Reigning cup holders Shawbury created the better of the early chances at Whitchurch with Matty Ballard crashing a header against the underside of the bar before the ball was gathered by Cam Phelps in the home goal with the visitors convinced that it had crossed the line.

Phelps also needed to tip a 25-yarder from Ballard over the bar before Alport struck twice before half-time through Jud Ellis and James Bennett-Tindall.

The impressive Ballard finally pulled a goal back but this was cancelled out when substitute Mike Blundell lobbed United keeper Ian Havard.

“We had our chances but it sums up the luck we’re having when you get decisions go against you like when the header went over the line from the underside of the bar,” Richards said.

“It was a frustrating night all round as we had nine first team players missing.

"This was a chance to win some silverware in an otherwise disappointing season so you have to question some of the players’ commitment.”

With their last two home games called off at Ludlow, Saturday’s match against title hopefuls Coventry United will be the first time Shawbury have played in the league since November 21.

“It’s far from ideal.

"When we have a game postponed on a Saturday then the players will often go and play elsewhere and if they get injured then we lose them for a few weeks,” Richards added.

“Ludlow had played on the pitch last Wednesday and it was badly rutted down the middle so the referee called our match off. The forecast isn’t great for the end of this week so we’ll just have to hope for the best.”