LOSING their star striker to airport delays failed to ground Clee Hill United as the reigning champions soared back to the top of the Herefordshire Premier with a 3-0 win at Ewyas Harold.

With last season’s 56-goal top scorer Josh Carpenter stranded in Spain, Craig Breakwell stepped up to pilot United to victory with a first-half brace and Steven Preece sealed the points after the break.

Pleased boss Wayne Whitbread said: “Sometimes I think we rely on Josh too much and the other players take a backward step so it was great to see Craig step forward.

“We hit the bar and the post so it could have been more comfortable. I wouldn’t say it was a brilliant performance but Ewyas Harold are a hard-working side and we had to scrap for everything we could get.”

The only downside for Clee Hill was a head injury that forced Breakwell off, potentially adding him to a growing injury list that also features Liam Whitbread and skipper James Clifford.

Boss Whitbread hopes some will recover for Saturday’s game with Fownhope but added: “We have a squad of 18 or 19 who are pretty even in ability so if we lose a couple, we have two perfectly able people to come in.”

Ludlow Colts were also under-strength for their trip to Kington Town but led at the interval as Jack Gittoes netted from Sam Thomas’ in-swinging corner.

But fortune did not favour Colts after the break as Gittoes saw a strong penalty appeal turned down and Kington scored two fine goals to pinch a 2-1 win.

In Division Two, Woofferton still await their first game after opponents – this time Marden – cried off for a second week running. They host St John Howle Hill in the Herefordshire Junior Cup this weekend.