North Leigh 0 Evesham United 1
Southern League Division One South & West
ADAM Mann was Evesham’s match-winner on Saturday in the rural surrounds of the Eynsham Hall Park sports ground to extend the Robins’ unbeaten run to nine games and further cement their place in the play-off zone.
The former Gloucester City striker, who is due to remain at the Jubilee Stadium until the end of next season, struck the decisive goal early in the first half with his 11th of the campaign to take Paul Collicutt’s third placed side within touching distance of booking their place in the end of season play-offs.
North Leigh, who themselves are still in with an outside chance of making the play-offs, had only lost three times on home soil in the league this season and included former Oxford United players Jamie Cook and Callum McNish in their expensively assembled line-up.
United were without captain Matt Sysum, who was starting a three-match ban, but welcomed back Will Wellon on the bench following a month out with a hamstring injury.
North Leigh began the game with the strong wind and slope in their favour, but it was Evesham playing against the elements who got their noses in front on 16 minutes.
After winning a succession of corners, a Lee Smith flag kick on the left was only cleared as far as the unmarked Mann, who fired home a superb volley past the despairing dive of Matt Bulman into the top corner.
Despite Sysum’s absence, North Leigh’s powerful strikeforce of Cook and McNish posed little threat as Linden Dovey and Liam Harding were outstanding at the heart of United’s defence.
Evesham edged the rest of the first half as Ashley Edenborough and Mann both forced decent saves out of keeper Bulman and then Jared Wilson and the lively Lee Smith drilled efforts wide of the target as the Red & Whites continued to look bright and breezy.
United showed the greater level of control after half time, resulting in Mann firing into the side-netting and then Marcus Jackson blazing over with a clear sight at goal.
With the game drawing to a close, the Millers finally upped the tempo in search of an equaliser and their only clearcut chance arrived in the last minute when Jacob Hughes’ fierce drive was brilliantly pushed around a post by Robins number one Kevin Sawyer to keep United’s lead intact.
Before the final whistle there was still time for Lance Smith to go close for United but, after racing clear, he pulled his shot wide of an upright with Bulman beaten.
Evesham will continue their pursuit of second placed Taunton Town when they visit mid-table Shortwood United on Saturday.