Earl Celtic 1, Spartak 0
Spartak crashed to defeat on a grassy and bumpy pitch in Brickfields, where the home team show a greater level of desire and urgency.
With Spartak on a good run, and Earl having won just once all season, this looked like an away win on paper. The way the game turned out could hardly have been more different. Earl, with decent finishing, could have been out of sight at the break. Spartak had the chance to regroup and work up a head of steam, but remained lifeless and listless.
A poor start by the Sky Blues proved a harbinger for things to come, and play never really improved.
An injury to an Earl player, who collapsed off the ball, held up proceedings mid match while an ambulance arrived. The player was, thankfully, later discharged from hospital.
Earl scored on the hour, and might have added one or two more, but it was their first half profligacy which cost them a greater margin of victory.
Among the few chances created by the Sky Blues were efforts by Mick Leslie, Ciaran Keane and Conor Callis, none of which carried the necessary conviction.
With the reverse fixture to follow next week, Spartak will need to improve greatly to get anything from the return fixture.
Bobby Hayes 4 Chris Hogan 4 Mick Greene 5 Daniel Sage 6 Dave O’Kelly 5 Ciaran Keane 5 Conor Canavan 5 Conor Callis 4 Niall Lennon 5 John Hanratty 5 Mick Leslie 4 .
Subs: Niall Hanratty 5 Gavin Curtis 4 Joe McCarthy 4.