EVESHAM United’s Southern League Division One South play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 defeat in Saturday’s crucial clash at Cirencester Town.
Paul Collicutt’s side would have leapfrogged the Centurions with victory but instead slipped five points behind the Gloucestershire outfit having played a game more.
Evesham also sit three points behind Winchester City, who occupy the final play-off place, having played two more fixtures than the Hampshire side, leaving the Robins knowing only maximum points from their final four matches is likely to give them a chance of sealing a play-off berth.
Seventh-placed United do, however, have a great chance to return to winning ways on Saturday when they entertain relegation-battling Barnstaple Town.
Saturday’s result was harsh on the Robins who played their part in an entertaining fixture but this was no consolation for the visitors as they returned empty-handed.
The hosts suffered an early setback when keeper Mat Wieczorek was forced off through injury and replaced by Sam Ayres, but the latter was left celebrating a clean sheet, albeit a slightly fortuitous one.
Town’s Tommy Anderson headed against the post early on before Kane Simpson forced Ayres into a smart save at the other end in the opening exchanges.
The dangerous Simpson then went even closer when his well struck 20-yard free kick crashed against the post.
Back came Cirencester as Will Christopher’s thumping 25-yard strike was well tipped over by Andy Hannah before Evesham went close again themselves when Adam Page’s corner hit the post.
The breakthrough finally arrived on 53 minutes when Michael Pook’s centre was converted from close range by Alan Griffin before Evesham hit the woodwork yet again when Toumani Sidibe’s powerful shot from a narrow angle crashed against the right-hand post on the hour mark.
Six minutes later it was the hosts’ turn to hit the woodwork when Aidan Bennett’s cross-shot struck the bar before a good effort from Anderson was well blocked.
Steve Davies almost drew Evesham level, only to be denied by a good save, before Cirencester decisively doubled their lead on 73 minutes when Anderson set up the unmarked Owen Windsor to finish with aplomb.