EVESHAM United will aim to erase the disappointment of their controversial 2-1 defeat to fellow Southern League West promotion hopefuls Salisbury when they travel to Swindon Supermarine on Saturday for another key encounter.
The Robins had two players sent off in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Steve Claridge’s second-placed Salisbury – who defeated United in an epic play-off semi-final last season – and once again felt a burning sense of injustice following the weekend’s events.
The perfect response will be victory in Wiltshire on Saturday but Paul Collicutt’s third-placed Evesham will face a stern test against a home side who go into the match just three points behind their visitors with two games in hand.
Saturday’s match was keenly contested from the outset as Salisbury showed why they are riding high without seriously troubling home keeper Kevin Sawyer in the opening half hour. Indeed, the closest they came to a goal was when the stopper made a point-blank save to keep out a deflection off his team-mate Will Wellon.
At the other end Adam Mann struck a superb shot which forced a full-length save but it was the visitors who were handed the initiative on 31 minutes and the referee’s decision played a huge part in this.
In slippy conditions, Linden Dovey made a sliding challenge on Elliot Wheeler which appeared to many to be firm but fair as he won the ball, yet after much deliberation he was sent off by Sarah Garratt.
United’s Archie Haskayne and Salisbury’s Owen Howe were also dismissed after coming together in the resulting chaos, but there was little evidence of anything too damning on their parts.
Salt was rubbed into the hosts’ wounds in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when Lewis Benson crossed to Daniel Young who tapped home in a crowded box to put Salisbury ahead.
Evesham were left with a mountain to climb when Salisbury doubled their lead on 54 minutes when George Colson scored from the penalty spot after Garyn Preen was adjudged to have committed a foul.
However, Collicutt’s men were in no mood to lie down and halved their arrears within a minute when Mann’s corner was met by the head of Matt Liddiard who continued his prolific goalscoring season with a bullet header which powered into the net to take his personal tally for the campaign to 18.
Evesham finished the game playing 2-3-3 as they threw the kitchen sink at Salisbury but a combination of poor finishing and gallant defending meant the hosts finished empty-handed.
The Robins’ recently postponed fixture at Kidlington will now be played on Wednesday, April 11 at 7.45pm. Meanwhile, the Good Friday fixture at home to Bideford has been moved forward to a 2pm kick-off.