EVESHAM United suffered a second successive away defeat as they slipped to a 4-2 loss at Thatcham Town in a dramatic match on Saturday.
The fourth-placed Robins have a six-point gap to the two sides immediately outside the Southern League Division One South play-off places – Cirencester Town and AFC Totton – although the pair have three and two games in hand respectively.
Therefore, the importance of returning to winning ways at home to Winchester City on Saturday is clear for all to see, especially as the eighth-placed visitors will arrive at the Jubilee just seven points adrift of their hosts with three matches in hand.
The weekend defeat – which featured four penalties and two red cards – was a tough one for United to take as both sides were unhappy with the standard of refereeing on numerous occasions.
The visitors were soon playing catch-up when Kyle Tooze was pushed in the box and the resulting penalty was converted by Shane Cooper-Clark in the second minute.
Evesham rallied with some decent pressure and Kane Simpson fizzed a free kick narrowly wide but the hosts doubled their advantage on 26 minutes when Tooze latched on to a long ball and fired into the corner to mark his debut with a goal.
The Robins found a way back into the game with a penalty of their own eight minutes before the break following a handball and Kane Simpson made no mistake from 12 yards.
The comeback really appeared to be on for Paul Collicutt’s men shortly into the second half when Thatcham’s Stu Cattell received a second yellow card and was dismissed, but the hosts had other ides and made it 3-1 when Tooze was again deemed to have been fouled in the box and Cooper-Clark calmly put away his second penalty.
Kane Simpson made it 3-2 on 67 minutes with his second penalty of the game following a foul just inside the box but, with Evesham throwing the kitchen sink at the home side, it was the Berkshire outfit who wrapped up the points when Scott Rees applied the finishing touch to a counter-attack.
There was still time for Thatcham to be reduced to nine men as Jack Alexander received his second yellow card but the Kingfishers were not to be denied maximum spoils.
Will Tunnicliff (knee) and Toumani Sidibe are doubts for Evesham this weekend but Nick Hancock (hamstring), who aggravated an existing injury when returning from the bench against Slimbridge recently, could be fit.