THERE were goals galore when Evesham United took on neighbours Cheltenham Town in a pre-season friendly at the Jubilee Stadium on Tuesday when the visitors emerged with a 7-3 victory.
Gary Johnson’s new-look Town side found their scoring touch in front of a bumper crowd of 523, but the hosts played their part in an exciting encounter.
Striker Harry Williams, who spent time on loan at Evesham last season, fired the visitors into a two-goal lead inside the opening 32 minutes before United pulled a goal back before the break through Lee Smith who, after an excellent run, fired low into the bottom corner past Calum Kitscha.
It became 3-1 to Cheltenham early in the second half when Amari Morgan-Smith fired in from the edge of the box and on the hour Cheltenham increased their lead through a close range header
from Billy Waters after keeper Kevin Sawyer had saved well from Harry Pell.
The impressive Pell made it 5-1 on 70 minutes and then Jack Munns added a sixth Cheltenham goal in the 72nd minute.
However, reserve team defender Sam Comfort got United’s second goal on 77 minutes with a fine effort that went in off the crossbar and it soon became 6-3 with three minutes to go when Lance Smith – who had an excellent night for United – scored with a sweetly struck free kick after Carl Brown had been fouled on the edge of the box.
Cheltenham, relegated to the National League for 2015/16, had the final say a minute from time when Danny Wright completed the scoring after racing clear and beating the advancing Sawyer.
ON SATURDAY Evesham secured a creditable 2-2 draw at higher ranked and big-spending Gosport Borough, of National League South.
The 260-mile round trip to the south coast for their opening pre-season friendly proved a very useful exercise as the Robins held their hosts to a draw despite being without seven of last season’s Southern League Division One South & West play-off squad due to holidays and unavailability.
Included in the United line-up were new signings Ashley Williams and Clayton Green, who were both at Paulton Rovers last season, and Ben Maguire who has spent time at Swindon Town and more recently Bishops Cleeve.
A lack of numbers and late arrivals in Hampshire were not ideal preparations but United overcame these obstacles and went on to dominate the first half without finding the back of the net.
Lee Smith, whose pace and trickery troubled the Gosport defence all afternoon, twice went close early on, as did the hardworking Lance Smith who screwed an effort just wide and then shot into the side-netting.
It came as no surprise when Lance Smith fired the Red and Whites ahead on 59 minutes with a superb lob over Nathan Ashmore which found the back of the net via an upright.
Gosport drew level four minutes later when Lee Wort capitalised on a rare mistake at the back to make it 1-1 and then, with the home side enjoying their best spell of the game, they took the lead in the 71st minute when substitute Kieran Stevens gave reserve team goalkeeper Josh Goddard no chance from close range.
However, Paul Collicutt’s side finished the stronger and levelled proceedings with two minutes to go when the Gosport defence failed to clear Sean Wood’s corner and the alert Green pounced to smash home the equaliser from eight yards.
The Robins, who hosted Stratford Town on Thursday, entertain Worcester City in the Worcestershire Senior Cup on Monday (7.45pm).