Ashley Edenborough`s second half goal was enough to beat a dogged Barnstaple Town side and give Evesham back-to-back wins in the Evo-Stik Southern South & West Division. Edenborough on his home debut and making his first start since re-joining the Robins from Highworth Town, scored the only goal two minutes after half-time to rekindle United`s play-off hopes and increase the gap to six points ahead of sixth placed Mangotsfield United, who have one game in hand. Despite missing an astonishing eight players because of injury and suspensions, United were always in control against their lowly opponents who never posed a threat going forward but defended resolutely at the back. It was a routine victory for the Red and Whites who completed a league double and kept a clean sheet for the first time in nine outings.
United boss Paul Collicutt was happy to see his side gain another victory saying, “At this stage of the season the results are more important than the performances. To be honest we`ve played much better this season and ended up only drawing or losing. There were very few clear-cut chances but we`ve dug in and got the result we needed. “Barnstaple paid us the compliment of changing their system, they`re a big strong side and made us work very hard for the win. “We had eight players watching in the stand but we`ve come through and hopefully one or two will start returning as we approach a crucial stage of the season. “The plus side for me today was Linden Dovey, Paul Fahy and Sean Wood all returning from injury and playing a part, whilst several results went our way aswell.”
The first half was largely forgettable with defences on top and both goalkeepers having little to do. Mark Magee did have the ball in the Barnstaple net but only after the whistle had blown for offside, while efforts from Magee and Ashley Williams flew just over. On the half-hour Barnstaple had penalty shouts turned down but Jordan Bryan clearly won the ball when dispossessing Niall Heaney in the box. For the rest of the half, United did all the pressing but failed to test Town stopper Steve Oliver. But that all changed at the start of the second half with Nick Stanley starting the move and then Adam Mann working the ball across goal for Edenborough to tap home from close range.
Soon after the breakthrough, Garyn Preen sent over a cross-shot that sailed just wide of the back post and then Oliver got down well to hold Bradley Gray`s 30-yard drive. Down the other end James Blake had an effort ruled out for offside but it was United who continued to enjoy their best spell of the game. Midfielder Sean Wood came on for goalscorer Edenborough to make his first appearance of the season and soon forced Oliver to save, before Paul Fahy also returning from injury rose to glance Lewis Binns` cross wide with Oliver rooted to his line. United supporters, however, held their breath in stoppage-time when Barnstaple broke away to be awarded a free-kick just outside the box but Kevin Sawyer safely kept out Jed Harper-Penman`s strike to prevent the visitors a shock equaliser and put Collicutt`s men back on course for the play-offs.
Pictures here by Stuart Purfield
Sawyer, Dovey, Stanley, Bryan, Harding (Binns 49), Williams, Gray, Edenborough (Wood 72), Mann, Magee (Fahy 79), Preen.
Subs not used: Gilder, Sloggett
Referee: Sarah Garratt (Halesowen)