Shortwood United 0 Evesham United 1
Southern League Division One South & West
IN-FORM Adam Mann was the Robins’ match-winner for the second game running as his first half strike proved enough to seal a victory on Saturday which lifted Paul Collicutt’s side above Taunton Town into second place.
The win at a windswept Meadowbank made it ten games without defeat for Collicutt’s men and in the process the popular Kevin Sawyer kept his 19th clean sheet in 34 league games in what has been an outstanding campaign for the United number one.
Mann, who netted the only goal in the Red & Whites’ last outing at North Leigh, repeated the feat against one of his former clubs to take his tally for the season to 12 and move within three goals of leading scorer Ashley Edenborough.
Skipper Matt Sysum was again absent through suspension, so Collicutt relied on the same starting eleven who triumphed in Oxfordshire seven days earlier.
Shortwood, who needed a win themselves to keep their slim play-off aspirations alive, enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges as giant striker Lewis Sommers glanced a header just wide and Josh Egan blazed his shot over after neat skills down the right by the lively Marley Thomas.
Evesham gradually worked their way into the game and from Nick Stanley’s free-kick Edenborough forced Tom King to save and then King was at full stretch to push aside Carl Brown’s deflected drive.
Thomas then tested Sawyer before United bagged the all-important goal on 37 minutes, when Mann dispossessed Ross Langworthy just outside the box and ran on to beat the advancing King from ten yards.
Although facing a blustery wind in the second half, Evesham continued to play the better football and always looked dangerous going forward. Marcus Jackson and the busy Edenborough both went close and King produced several decent stops to keep the home side in the game.
Shortwood threatened on the break but Sawyer was up to the task, denying Sommers with a brave block and then touching over a Josh Klein-Davies header.
The best chances fell Evesham’s way in the closing stages, as firstly Edenborough scooped his shot over and then a combination of King and Egan blocked George Washbourne’s shot on the goalline when the substitute looked certain to score.
Despite seven minutes of added time, Shortwood failed to find an equaliser and the visitors easily held on for their seventh league double of a remarkable season.
The Robins, whose place in the play-offs is now all but mathematically secure, host Cinderford Town on Saturday before welcoming Wantage Town to the Jubilee Stadium on Easter Monday. Both matches have 3pm kick-offs.