EVESHAM United extended their unbeaten league run to seven matches although they were left frustrated on Tuesday as lowly Marlow held them to a 1-1 draw at the Jubilee Stadium.
The Robins had been hopeful of recording a sixth win in seven Southern League Division One South & West encounters, especially on the back of Saturday’s superb 3-2 win against Tiverton Town, but Paul Collicutt’s side failed to hit the heights of their efforts in Devon where the ten-man visitors sealed a last-gasp win thanks to a debut goal from new signing Nathan Modest.
Evesham paid the price for not taking their chances and had to settle for a point which leaves them ninth and seven points adrift of the play-off places.
It was a disappointing result for the Robins, who should have wrapped things up before half time, but a combination of poor finishing and the woodwork enabled the visitors to return to Buckinghamshire with just their fifth away point of the season.
Due to the late arrival of a number of Marlow players, the start was put back 15 minutes and it was United who were first out of the blocks.
An early goalmouth scramble saw a couple of efforts blocked and Blues keeper Simon Grant make a good save to keep out Nick Stanley.
With the wind behind them, United continued on the front foot and Sean Wood fired over after good work by Lance Smith on the left before Wood snatched at his shot with only Grant to beat.
Grant was kept busy in gathering efforts from Adam Mann and Wood and then Matt Sysum failed to get a decent contact with just Grant in his sights.
Marlow fired a warning shot leading up to the break when Stephen Peacock thundered a drive against Kevin Sawyer’s post with the Robins stopper beaten.
United then went straight up the other end and Carl Brown shaved the crossbar with a powerful shot from the edge of the box.
During the opening minute of the second half the visitors’ woodwork was struck again and this time it was Liam Harding’s turn with a snap-shot from 20 yards.
Play deterioted for a while in the testing conditions, but on 74 minutes the pressure told when Lance Smith beat his marker and fired in low past Grant for his seventh goal of the season to give United a well deserved 1-0 lead.
However, the Red & Whites’ joy was shortlived as Marlow levelled six minutes later through a clinical finish by the lively Devontae Romeo.
Despite some late pressure and a succession of corners, Collicutt’s side could not find a winner and they will have to up their game if they are to return to winning ways on Saturday when leaders Cinderford Town bring a 17-match unbeaten run to the Jubilee including a current run of eight successive victories.
On Tuesday the Robins then travel to Swindon Supermarine, who are currently sixth.
SATURDAY’S visit to Tiverton was a dramatic affair as Evesham ended the hosts’ 18-match unbeaten league run.
The late hero was Modest who came off the bench to score a dramatic stoppage time winner for ten-man Evesham.
The former Sheffield Wednesday forward, recruited from National League North outfit AFC Telford United, secured what had looked an unlikely win after midfielder Ashley Williams had been sent off late in the first half.
Skipper at the double
However, two goals by the outstanding Matt Sysum and Modest’s strike bagged all three points for the Red & Whites, who last week lost the services of striker Lewis Powell to league rivals Taunton Town after just 21 days at the Jubilee.
On a poor pitch and in a swirling wind, both sides took time to adapt to the difficult conditions but United looked the more adventurous as Mann and Smith both forced decent saves out of Tivvy keeper Joe Perry.
United were rewarded for their positive start by going ahead on 19 minutes when captain Sysum got the final touch to head home Stanley’s free kick beyond Perry.
United’s lead, however, lasted just six minutes before James Mudge levelled for the hosts with a drive past Sawyer into the far corner.
United looked dangerous from set pieces and from another Stanley dead ball delivery Sysum again towered above the Tiverton defence, only to have his header saved by the well placed Perry.
Disaster then struck for Collicutt’s men with the dismissal of Williams for a tackle on Owen Howe, which was a debatable decision by the referee and followed an overreaction from Howe, which left United to play the remaining 51 minutes with ten men.
United then silenced the home crowd by going 2-1 in front on the stroke of half time courtesy of Sysum’s superb looping header from another well directed Stanley free kick.
Striker Mann was sacrificed at the break and replaced by Harding, leaving Smith to play up top by himself.
The switch worked a treat as Tiverton lacked ideas to break down United’s hardworking defence and midfield until three minutes from time when Michael Williams looked
to have earned the home side at least a draw after sliding in to convert from close range.
However, with Tiverton still buoyant, there was more drama to come at the opposite end of the park.
As the game approached the seventh minute of added time and with the final whistle about to blow, Modest was given the freedom of Ladysmead to run through a non-existent Tiverton defence and coolly round Perry before rolling in a well deserved winner.