EVESHAM United remain firmly on course for a Southern League Division One South & West play-off place after Matt Sysum’s first half goal proved enough to seal a 1-0 home win over a dogged Mangotsfield United side on Saturday.
The Robins skipper, playing against his former club, got on the end of Sean Wood’s free kick a minute before the break for the game’s only goal to extend United’s unbeaten run to 12 games.
Battling Mangotsfield proved difficult opposition to break down and, like most sides visiting the Jubilee Stadium this season, relied on the counter-attack as their main threat.
The first meaningful shot at goal fell to Evesham’s Marcus Jackson, whose first-time effort was superbly turned behind by visiting keeper Joe Perry.
Evesham dominated possession and were in the ascendancy for the rest of the half, but a packed Mangotsfield defence denied Paul Collicutt’s side a clear chance to take the lead for a lengthy spell.
Wood went closest with a fierce drive that thumped against the crossbar before eventually being cleared.
However, with 60 seconds to go before half time, the Robins deservedly made the breakthrough via Sysum’s well directed header for his eighth goal of the season.
In an attempt to get something out of the game, Mangotsfield were more adventurous in the second half and missed a good opportunity to equalise when Steve Davies blazed over when well placed.
On-loan Gloucester City striker Adam Mann responded for the hosts, forcing Perry to make a flying save, and then headed wide of the target after good work down the left by George Washbourne.
The visitors then went on to enjoy their best spell of the game and forced a number of corners without seriously troubling Kevin Sawyer in the Evesham goal.
Enforced substitutions resulted in United losing some of their shape but, despite pressing for a late leveller, Mangotsfield failed to capitalise.
The hard earned victory was sweet revenge for the 3-0 defeat suffered at Cossham Street in late October.
Fourth placed Evesham face a stern test on Saturday when they welcome leaders Merthyr Town to the Jubilee Stadium but, having taken 32 points from the last possible 36 and having already beaten the Martyrs 1-0 in Wales in December, Collicutt’s side have every chance of claiming what would be a superb double over the clear leaders.
Liam Harding gets stuck in for Evesham on Saturday. Picture by Stuart Purfield. (www.stuartpurfield.co.uk).
Sean Wood gives chase for the hosts. Picture by Stuart Purfield. (www.stuartpurfield.co.uk).