EVESHAM United turned on the style to record a crucial 3-0 victory over Southern League West play-off rivals Bideford at the Jubilee Stadium on Good Friday.
Paul Collicutt’s men were then denied the chance to build on their win when Easter Monday’s visit to lowly Shortwood United was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, but the Robins sit in the final play-off spot – in sixth place – ahead of Saturday’s daunting visit to promoted champions-elect Taunton Town.
There was a cup final feel to Friday’s game as the Robins knew victory was crucial against the Devon side who began the match four points behind the hosts with three games in hand.
However, it was the visitors who started the better of the two sides with a couple of opportunities in the first six minutes. The first shot from Bideford’s Sean Downing went over the bar and the second followed a moment of defensive confusion which allowed Ben Seymour to get his shot away, but it was flicked over by Evesham’s reliable keeper Kevin Sawyer at his near post.
The 245-strong crowd had to wait until the 20-minute mark for the home side to muster their first attack when a free-kick was headed back across the goal by Matt Liddiard and defender Andy Lewis managed to get on the end of it, but sadly for him his shot went over the bar from just six yards.
Evesham, despite a slow start, were now well and truly in the game and went close when Will Wellon headed over the bar from an impressive corner kick by Garyn Preen.
Just two minutes later, Adam Mann latched on to a ball that Bideford’s James Mayne failed to control and the striker dispatched a shot past the advancing keeper and into the net, much to the delight of the home supporters.
The lead was doubled just three minutes later when Preen was able to drill in a low cross and the ball came off Mayne straight into his own net.
Having gone into the break with a 2-0 lead, Evesham started the second half by far the brighter of the two sides with far more purpose in their play.
They were rewarded in the 54th minute when an almighty kick from the hands of Sawyer was chased down by Carl Brown whose first-time cross was met by the outstretched foot by Mann to give the latter his second goal of the game and Evesham’s third.
A tireless performance from midfielder Carl Brown and solid defending from Liddiard and Lewis at the heart of Evesham’s defence ensured there was no way back for the visitors, who were then beaten 1-0 at home by Taunton on Monday.
Evesham know only their very best will do against the same opposition in Somerset this weekend before a Tuesday night visit to mid-table Kidlington.
The supporters’ coach to Taunton will now leave the Jubilee Stadium at 10.45am.