EVESHAM United’s run without a victory extended to eight matches as they exited the Worcestershire Senior Cup at the first round stage at higher ranked Stourbridge on Tuesday, but Paul Collicutt’s side can be proud of their efforts as a team without eight regulars pushed the hosts all the way.
United were severely depleted for the trip to Amblecote as they travelled without the services of Lewis Binns, Carl Brown, Sean Wood, Ashley Edenborough, Lance Smith, Harry Williams and former Stourbridge duo Aaron Drake and George Washbourne.
This forced Collicutt to bring in a number of youngsters from United’s reserve team to help get a side on the park and Evesham, who were beaten by Redditch United in last season’s final, made their customary poor start when Junior Smikle found the net to give the Glassboys a fourth minute lead.
For the rest of the first half, however, United looked neat and tidy and could easily have gone in at half time on level terms.
Former Robins keeper Dean Coleman twice spread himself to save form the dangerous Elliot Kennedy and then touched Nick Stanley’s shot on to a post before scrambling the ball clear.
In the last action of the half Coleman got down to smother Kennedy’s drive, only for Kevin Slack who was following up to blaze the loose ball high and wide.
Stourbridge looked brighter during the early stages of the second half and extended their lead through Kayelden Brown on 63 minutes when the midfielder found the top corner despite United stopper Kevin Sawyer getting a good hand on the ball.
Reserve team striker Ty Knight, who made a favourable impression after coming on for Slack, then scored his first ever senior goal for United with a well struck volley to cut the Glassboys’ lead with eight minutes to go.
However, despite one or two scares before the final whistle, the home side saw out five minutes of stoppage time to book a semi-final spot at Kidderminster Harriers.
ON SATURDAY the Robins slipped to a 3-1 defeat at fellow mid-table outfit Tiverton Town in Southern League Division One South & West.
Evesham carried plenty of threat going forward, but clinical finishing by Tiverton proved the difference between the two sides.
United also had goalkeeper Sawyer sent off in the second half but by then the damage had been done, with the home side already holding a 3-1 lead.
Evesham went into the game struggling for numbers with Binns, Brown, Smith and Edenborough all absent, leaving manager Collicutt without a full complement on the substitutes bench.
Not for the first time this season, United conceded an early goal when Owen Howe swept in past Sawyer with a mere two minutes on the clock.
Despite falling behind, Evesham looked the better side and went close to equalising when Jared Wilson’s deflected shot rolled just wide and Tivvy gloveman Chris Wright made a fine save to keep out Stanley’s well struck drive.
United then had penalty appeals turned down when Tiverton’s Steve Goss appeared to clip the heels of Williams in the box but referee Simon Jackson waved play on.
Poor marking at the opposite end, however, allowed Tom Gardner a free header at the near post to head in Jake Wannell’s corner for 2-0 in the 29th minute.
Evesham continued to plug away and pulled a goal back two minutes before half time when Williams was sent tumbling by James Richards and this time Mr Jackson pointed to the spot, leaving skipper Matt Sysum to send Wright the wrong way from 12 yards.
Livewire Elliot Kennedy tested Wright with a couple of decent efforts before Ethan Phillips added a third for the hosts on 55 minutes with a 25-yarder into the top corner.
Sawyer was then dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area and with it went any hopes United had of getting themselves back in the game.
Late Robins pressure resulted in some last-ditch defending by Tiverton and Wright was kept busy in making point-blank saves from Kennedy and Drake before, in stoppage time, Phillips cleared off the line to deny substitute Marcus Palmer a late consolation.
Evesham head back down the M5 on Saturday to face high-flying Taunton Town.