ADAM MANN struck twice for Evesham United but the Robins were held to a 2-2 draw at in-form AFC Totton on Saturday which did little to enhance their play-off hopes.
This was a decent point for United in Hampshire and Paul Collicutt’s side pushed hard for a winning goal, but maximum points was the aim as they look to cut the gap to the top five.
The result left Evesham eighth in the Southern League Division One South & West table, seven points behind fifth placed North Leigh, but sandwiched in between with games in hand are Winchester City and Tiverton Town.
United arrived at the Testwood Stadium looking for a second league double after trouncing the Stags 6-0 at the Jubilee Stadium earlier in the season and Collicutt’s side should have romped to victory, but found Totton keeper Steve Mowthorpe in top form as only Mann – whose brace took his season’s tally to 14 as he returned to the top of United’s goalscoring chart – was able to beat the home stopper.
Totton began confidently as Neil Williams and Dylan Knight both went close but United eventually settled and went on to take a 13th minute lead when Lewis Binns got down the left and delivered an inch-perfect cross which Mann calmly converted with a powerful header past Mowthorpe.
The lead, however, lasted just five minutes as Nathaniel Sherborne rose highest to direct Nick Watts’ delivery beyond Kevin Sawyer to bring the home side level at 1-1.
The rest of the first half belonged to United but they were unable to find a way past Mowthorpe as the Totton stopper held Nick Stanley’s driven free kick and made smart saves to keep out Binns twice and Stanley.
The second half continued with United asking all the questions but a lapse at the back on 53 minutes presented Watts with time and space to pick his spot and fire into the bottom corner.
United responded swiftly to make it 2-2 just past the hour mark when the excellent Jacob Sloggett – who again impressed with his pace and trickery – created the opening for Mann who scrambled the ball home despite a valiant attempt by Mowthorpe to keep it out.
United were not content with a draw and went tantalisingly close to clinching all three points when Sloggett’s cross found the unmarked Mann but Mowthorpe produced a brilliant point-blank save to deny Mann his hat-trick and ensure the contest ended all square.
The Robins have a golden chance to put three points on the board and substantially boost their goal difference on Saturday when they host a Bashley side who have lost all 25 league games this season, conceding 120 goals in the process.
Tuesday then brings a trip to mid-table Bishops Cleeve who, with numerous games in hand, could yet challenge for a play-off place.