Evesham United 0 Didcot Town 1
Southern League Division One South & West
TEN-MAN Evesham United saw their assault on the Southern League Division One South & West play-off places suffer a setback as they were beaten by visitors Didcot Town, whose victory maintained their own outside chance of a top five finish.
A match low in quality turned in the Oxfordshire side’s favour when the Robins’ leading scorer Lance Smith received his marching orders shortly into the second half after picking up a second yellow card.
It was a frustrating Saturday afternoon for the Red & Whites and Smith in particular as he spurned United’s best chance of the game inside the opening minute.
The hosts struggled to get out of second gear in a game dominated by defences and clearcut chances were few and far between.
Smith’s early miss proved costly when, from Lewis Binns’ cross, his downward header bounced over the crossbar with only Didcot keeper Leigh Bedwell to beat.
Moments later Binns got down the left again but, from another inviting cross, no colleague gambled at the back post and the ball flashed across the face of goal and away to safety.
The rest of the half was a tepid affair and crept by tediously with neither keeper being called upon to make a save.
However, the pattern of the game changed dramatically during the opening exchanges of the second half.
Smith, who had already been booked in the first half, made a challenge on Marvin Martin and was immediately dismissed by referee Scott Postin.
Shortly after Smith’s rush of blood United were punished again when Didcot grabbed the only goal of the game.
There appeared no danger when Graham Edney collected the ball 30 yards out but the midfielder unleashed a tremendous drive that flew past the diving Kevin Sawyer into the roof of the net.
United’s ten men pressed for an equaliser but to no avail.
Captain Matt Sysum, who returned to the side from suspension, did have his header cleared off the line by Kieran Collins but that was it in terms of near misses as, despite a flurry of late corners and free kicks, Bedwell was never tested.
The closest United came to salvaging a draw arrived courtesy of Didcot defender Adam Learoyd whose sliced clearance wrong-footed Bedwell but rolled wide of the stopper’s left-hand post.
Evesham, for whom this was just a second defeat in 13 league games, are now six points adrift of Winchester City in the final play-off place but have played two games more.
The Robins head to Hampshire on Saturday to face mid-table AFC Totton.