Robins on verge of booking play-off place - The Evesham Observer

Robins on verge of booking play-off place

Evesham Editorial 11th Apr, 2017   0

EVESHAM United need one win from their three remaining matches to make sure of a Southern League Division One South & West play-off place following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over visitors Mangotsfield United.

The tense win at a baking hot Jubilee Stadium left the fifth placed Robins seven points above both Mangotsfield and Swindon Supermarine with nine left to play for.

However, the win came at a cost as Liam Harding – who has been outstanding at the heart of the Robins defence this season – suffered a broken leg ten minutes from time to become the latest in a long list of United casualties.

It was a devastating blow for the player and boss Paul Collicutt, who has been without Joe Turley and Sam Pearson for most of the season whilst Bradley Gray and top scorer Lance Smith are fighting to be involved again this season.

Collicutt showed mixed emotions after the game, saying: “The lads did what I asked them to do and that was to win a game of football.

“It’s all about results but I have to say the performance was pretty decent and we created a bucketload of chances. Statistics show we dominated the game and I can’t argue with that.

“The downside was losing Liam Harding who has been immense at the back for us and I feel for him because the circumstances that led to the injury should have been prevented.

“I am gutted for the lad who is very popular with the players and supporters and we send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

“The squad has been tested all season with the number of long-term injuries but we’ve managed to keep going which speaks volumes for the strength and depth we have in the squad.”

With so much at stake for both sides, the first half was more fascinating than enthralling as United bossed possession but were unable to kill the game off.

The Robins looked up for the challenge from the start and scored the winning goal in the 11th minute when a quick break by Paul Fahy resulted in Jordan Bryan ghosting through the Mangos’ defence and steering the ball past Steve Phillips.

Evesham looked dangerous at set pieces and almost added a second before half time but Harding’s header crashed against the crossbar before being cleared.

The hosts struck the woodwork again in the second half through the impressive Matt Williams whose powerful header came back off the bar with Phillips beaten.

Good work by Fahy on the left ended with Phillips making a fine save to keep out Adam Mann, before Ashley Williams glanced a header wide.

Then, with Mann grounded with a head injury, the referee refused to stop play and Harding suffered his horrific injury when the game should have been halted at the opposite end.

Following Harding’s departure, Mangotsfield enjoyed a brief spell of pressure and Matt Groves forced a save out of Kevin Sawyer before Tom Warren prodded wide at the back stick.

However, Bryan’s second goal of the season proved decisive to claim a sixth league double and United head to Bideford on Saturday knowing a win would guarantee a place in the play-offs for a second time in three seasons.

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