EVESHAM United boss Paul Collicutt has challenged his side to give their all as they bid to maintain their slim Southern League Division One South & West play-off hopes at title favourites Cinderford Town on Saturday.
The sixth placed Robins racked up a fifth successive win as they saw off visitors Tiverton Town 3-2 in a thriller on Saturday but results elsewhere continue to go against them and, with just eight matches remaining, they are five points behind fifth placed Taunton Town having played two more matches.
However, Collicutt, whose side have lost just twice in the last 21 league games, refuses to give up the battle for a top five finish, although accepts his side face a stern test to continue their winning ways at leaders Cinderford, who are yet to be beaten on home soil in the league this season.
Collicutt, whose side secured a dramatic win against Tiverton thanks to Adam Mann’s 87th-minute penalty, was relieved to see the Devon side spurn a spot kick of their own which would have put them 2-0 up shortly into the second half.
“We were made to work hard for the victory by a strong Tiverton side but we kept our shape and discipline and over the 90 minutes I felt we deserved the win.
“It’s another important three points and I’m pleased with that. We didn’t make the best of starts but the turning point for me was the penalty miss, it spurred us on and we went from strength to strength.
“Next up is a massive test for us at title contenders Cinderford Town who are unbeaten at home this season and hopefully we’ll take a good following with us.”
It was a tense affair at the Jubilee Stadium as both sides went into the game knowing defeat would put a huge dent in any play-off dreams.
The Mann in form
Thankfully for the hosts, they came through with flying colours as former Gloucester City striker Mann moved on to 23 goals for the season and seven in his last three games.
Experienced goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer returned for United after missing the midweek drubbing of basement boys Bashley, but midfielder Sean Wood was absent as he served a one-match ban for his sending-off at Taunton Town a fortnight earlier.
The visitors drew first blood on ten minutes when the United defence failed to deal with Joe Perry’s huge punt upfield, which allowed Tiverton’s leading scorer Levi Landricombe to fire beyond the advancing Sawyer.
Back came United as Jake Sloggett and Matt Sysum both sent headers over and Lance Smith had his shot blocked before Lewis Binns smacked a shot against the Tivvy crossbar, as did Landricombe at the other end before half time.
Seven minutes into the second half Tiverton squandered a glorious chance to go further ahead when James Richards blasted his spot kick against the woodwork after Landricombe had been fouled in the box by Will Wellon.
The miss proved costly when, on the hour, Sloggett broke down the right and centered to Binns who beat Perry with a first-time drive into the roof of the net to equalise.
Ten minutes remained when United got their noses in front courtesy of Mann who smashed the ball home from close range after Sysum had headed down Jared Wilson’s corner.
However, United’s celebrations were shortlived as Ethan Phillips levelled things up at 2-2 with a fierce shot three minutes later which Sawyer got a hand on but could not keep out.
The drama continued leading up to United’s winning goal in the 87th minute when the hardworking Lance Smith was taken down from behind in the area by Mike Williams and Mann stepped up to convert from 12 yards to make it 3-2.
More than five minutes of added time was played but United held their nerve to comfortably see the game out and register a fourth league double of the season.