PAUL COLLICUTT expressed his delight at Lance Smith rejecting an offer to join Hednesford Town – and then challenged the striker to become an even bigger player for Evesham United.
The Evo-Stik Northern Premier promotion-chasing Pitmen had filed a seven-day approach for the goal-getter but the fans’ favourite has decided to stay at the Jubilee Stadium.
Manager Collicutt said the decision was “great news” as the Robins look to step up their push for the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West play-offs.
Collicutt says there is still plenty more to come from the striker, who has netted seven times this season.
“Lance’s decision had given everybody a lift,” said the boss. “Now I want Lance to just concentrate on his football.
“He’s been with me for two full seasons but he hasn’t played out a full season, for whatever reason, whether it’s been illness, injury or unavailability because of work.
“He’s a local lad and he’s a big favourite with the Evesham supporters.
“On his day, he is as good as anything in the league. I want him to prove what a good player he is on a consistent basis. He needs to be going from getting six or seven out of ten every week to eight or nine every game.”
Evesham suffered their first defeat in five matches when they bowed out of the Southern League Challenge Cup first round on Tuesday with a 4-1 loss at Leamington.
It was the chance for Collicutt to give squad players their chance to impress and in the first half particularly they were more than a match for the Southern Premier title-challengers. Elliot Kennedy had equalised for Evesham after 20 minutes but three second half goals sent Leamington into the second round.
“I think the 4-1 scoreline flattered Leamington,” said Collicutt. “The performance was encouraging against a team who are second in the league above. There were positives despite the defeat.”
Now Evesham will be focused on proving a point on Saturday as they bid to book a place in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy when they visit league rivals Shortwood United.
A 2-0 defeat on August Bank Holiday was an afternoon to forget for the Robins but Collicutt is confident they will be ready for the Trophy rematch.
“We lost 2-0 at Shortwood and we will certainly need to do a lot better this weekend,” said Collicutt.
“It was on the Bank Holiday Monday and we had had a tough game on the Saturday, playing with ten men after 15-20 minutes against Bideford. Shortwood’s game had been called off on the Saturday and they looked a lot sharper, a lot fresher on the day. I’m looking forward to showing what we can do.”
Evesham will include defender Leroy Odiero, who has joined from Gloucester City on loan for the rest of the season.
Linden Dovey and Joe Turley should be available after missing the Leamington fixture but Lorcan Sheehan is a doubt after aggravating a niggle in the warm-up before the Brakes game.
A tooth extraction meant Dovey was ruled out, with Collicutt adding: “He had a lot of work done and he looked like the Elephant Man but hopefully it will settle down in time for Saturday.”