Makeshift Robins side boost play-off ambitions - The Evesham Observer

Makeshift Robins side boost play-off ambitions

Evesham Editorial 14th Mar, 2017 Updated: 14th Mar, 2017   0

EVESHAM United manager Paul Collicutt praised his severely depleted squad after they strengthened their grip on fifth place with a gritty 1-0 home victory over Barnstaple Town on Saturday.

The Robins’ second successive Southern League Division One South & West win moved them six points clear of sixth placed Mangotsfield United, who play their game in hand at seventh placed Swindon Supermarine tonight (Tuesday).

It was a precious three points for an Evesham side deprived of eight players through injury and suspension and Collicutt was delighted with his side’s efforts.

“At this stage of the season the results are more important than the performances,” said the manager.

“To be honest, we’ve played much better this season and ended up only drawing or losing. There were very few clearcut chances but we’ve dug in and got the result we needed.

“Barnstaple paid us the compliment of changing their system, they’re a big strong side and made us work very hard for the win.

“We had eight players watching in the stand but we’ve come through and hopefully one or two will start returning as we approach a crucial stage of the season.

“The plus side for me was Linden Dovey, Paul Fahy and Sean Wood all returning from injury and playing a part, whilst several results went our way as well.”

Ashley Edenborough’s second half goal was enough to beat a dogged Barnstaple who were content to play for a point.

Edenborough, on his home debut and making his first start since rejoining the Robins from Highworth Town, scored the only goal two minutes after half time.

United were always in control against their lowly opponents who never posed a threat going forward but defended resolutely at the back.

It was a routine victory for the Red and Whites who completed a league double and kept a clean sheet for the first time in nine outings.

The first half was largely forgettable with defences on top and both goalkeepers having little to do.

Mark Magee did have the ball in the Barnstaple net but only after the whistle had blown for offside, while efforts from Magee and Ashley Williams flew just over.

On the half hour mark Barnstaple had penalty shouts turned down when Jordan Bryan clearly won the ball when dispossessing Niall Heaney in the box.

For the rest of the half, United did all the pressing but failed to test Town stopper Steve Oliver.

However, that all changed at the start of the second half as Nick Stanley started the move and then Adam Mann worked the ball across goal for Edenborough to tap home from close range.

Soon after the breakthrough, Garyn Preen sent over a cross-shot that sailed just wide of the Town back post and then Oliver got down well to hold Bradley Gray’s 30-yard drive.

At the other end James Blake had an effort ruled out for offside but it was United who continued to enjoy their best spell of the game.

Midfielder Wood came on for goalscorer Edenborough to make his first appearance of the season and soon forced Oliver to save, before Fahy – also returning from injury – rose to glance Lewis Binns’ cross wide with Oliver rooted to his line.

United supporters, however, held their breath in stoppage time when Barnstaple broke away to be awarded a free kick just outside the box, but Kevin Sawyer safely kept out Jed Harper-Penman’s strike to prevent the visitors earning a shock equaliser.

United visit local rivals Bishops Cleeve on Saturday before hosting Swindon Supermarine on Wednesday.

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