Evesham United 3 Mangotsfield United 0
Southern League Division One South & West
DESPITE missing a number of regulars, the play-off chasing Robins had enough in the tank to see off mid-table Mangotsfield who were forced to play more than an hour with ten men at the Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
Star striker Adam Mann bagged two more goals to make it 29 for the season and move sixth placed Evesham to within five points of Swindon Supermarine who occupy the final play-off place following the latter’s 4-1 loss at title favourites Cinderford Town.
It was not a vintage performance by any means but an improved second half display secured the points and, with four matches remaining for both Evesham and Marine, means the Robins still harbour ambitions of a top five finish.
United boss Paul Collicutt will be hoping for a favour from neighbours Bishops Cleeve on Tuesday when Swindon are the visitors to Kayte Lane, where the Mitres have been beaten just twice in the league this season.
Preparations for both sides were not ideal before the kick-off as Kevin Sawyer, Linden Dovey, Nick Stanley and Lance Smith were the United absentees, while Mangotsfield arrived with a Maroon kit that was deemed a clash of colours and had to borrow Evesham’s second strip of blue and white stripes.
Mangotsfield made the early running and could easily have been in front by the time United edged ahead. However, Will Wellon made a well timed last-ditch tackle on Ben Bament after the Field frontman had galloped clear and Ryan Batten headed over from a couple of Matt Groves corners.
The game then changed dramatically in the hosts’ favour when referee Mr Cairns was left in no doubt that last man Batten had pulled back Nathan Modest on 28 minutes and subsequently sent off the former Gloucester City defender.
Mann then stepped up to curl a delightful free kick around the wall and into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Chances for the rest of the half were thin on the ground, although Mann and the hardworking Ashley Williams did try their luck, but neither goalkeeper was called upon to save before the break.
Although a man down, Mangotsfield continued to battle gamely, before United substitute Karnell Chambers tested Kyle Phillips, but the Mangotsfield stopper could do nothing to prevent Carl Brown from netting Evesham’s second goal in the 79th minute for his first goal since November following good work by Chambers.
United went on to enjoy their best spell in the game and increased their lead to 3-0 four minutes from time when Clayton Green tricked his way down the left before delivering a perfect cross which Mann confidently tucked away past the diving Phillips.
By now the Robins were coasting to victory and nearly added a fourth goal in stoppage time but Chambers’ drive smacked against the post before being cleared.
The win completed a sixth league double for the Robins, who have been beaten just once in 12 games as they prepare to visit second bottom Burnham on Saturday before heading to local rivals Bishops Cleeve on Tuesday.
Collicutt praised his side afterwards, saying: “We haven’t given up hope of reaching the play-offs, far from it. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that, with four games left, anything can happen.
“We struggled to find our feet in the first half but grew stronger the longer the game went on. We’re going into every game believing we can win and we’ll go into the remaining four matches with that approach.”