EVESHAM United will head into Wednesday’s vital clash at home to Swindon Supermarine boosted by Saturday’s 2-0 triumph at Bishops Cleeve – a third successive Southern League Division One South & West victory.
The win maintained the fifth placed Robins’ five-point advantage over sixth placed Swindon – the side immediately outside the play-off zone – with seven matches remaining.
Boss Paul Collicutt was delighted by the victory, which came thanks to goals from Mark Magee and Adam Mann.
“Cleeve is never an easy place to go but I thought we were always in control and thoroughly deserved the win,” said Collicutt.
“They were always going to make life difficult for us but on the day I felt we were the better side and put in a professional performance.
“We knew what we had to do and a good second half display won it for us.
“We’ve now won three on the bounce which is pleasing and to keep another clean sheet was the icing on the cake.
“We have to deal with each game at a time and not look too far ahead. I am really pleased with the attitude of the players at the minute and we now have seven cup finals to come, starting with Swindon Supermarine at home on Wednesday.”
Achieving a fifth league double of the campaign was never going to be easy in the blustery wind and on a bobbly pitch, but at this stage of the season it is results that count for Collicutt’s side.
Former Cleeve boss Collicutt welcomed back midfielder Archie Haskayne from a three-match ban but was still without the services of seven of his players through injury and suspension.
The first half was a scrappy affair with the tricky conditions playing a part and the best chance fell United’s way soon after the start when Bradley Gray’s fierce drive was well saved by Matt Wieczorek diving to his right.
Wieczorek did well to hold Liam Harding’s header and at the opposite end Jacob Davidge’s overhead kick sailed over, but unsurprisingly half time arrived with the scoreline blank.
United came out for the second half with all guns blazing and took the lead within three minutes of the restart when former Mitre Magee got the final touch to Mann’s drive and diverted the ball beyond Wieczorek.
The goal changed the whole complexion of the game and United took control and went on to dominate the rest of proceedings.
Gray got on the end of Nick Stanley’s cross and looked certain to score but Wieczorek somehow kept the ball out before the danger was cleared.
Magee scooped his shot over and then Wieczorek was at full stretch to brilliantly touch Jordan Bryan’s drive on to the crossbar as United continued to press for a second goal to put the game to bed.
In a rare Cleeve attack Davidge did force Kevin Sawyer into making a decent save but with 75 minutes on the clock the hardworking Mann bagged his 11th goal of the season with a clinical finish past Wieczorek after latching on to Chris Pate’s misplaced header.
In stoppage time United were caught napping when James Baldwin found space on the right but the Cleeve substitute dragged his effort wide with only Sawyer in his sights.
United finished on the attack with Magee and the tricky Garyn Preen getting in shots and Wieczorek again doing well to hold on to Mann’s volley that looked to be heading for the top corner.