Evesham United failed to put a dent in Hungerford Town`s title challenge after the league leaders gained a narrow 1-0 victory to stay two points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik South & West Division.
Dean Stow`s second half goal was enough to seperate the two sides and hand Hungerford a hard fought league double. United`s cause was not helped when James Blake was sent-off 20 minutes from time for a challenge on Hungerford`s Ian Herring.
Before kick-off a minute`s silence was held for former Evesham chairman Stuart Reeves who passed away last week. United bossed the opening exchanges and could have been two-up inside five minutes. Sam Adkins and then Carl Brown forced keeper Paul Strudley to touch over goalbound drives. Things settled down and it was the turn of Evesham stopper Tom Cross to be called into action twice gathering safely from dangerman James Clark.
Leading up to half-time Brown volleyed over after Strudley had failed to deal with Will Gayton`s searching cross. Blake sidefooted wide and Strudley did well to get a hand to Leigh Downing`s drive that took an awkward bounce but it was the visitors who scored the only goal of the game on 55 minutes. The ball was worked across the Evesham penalty area to the unmarked Stow who fired home through a ruck of players. Clark was in the thick of the action soon after when he forced Cross to make an excellent point-blank save and then moments later after rounding the Robins keeper shot wide of an unguarded goal. After Blake`s dismissal Evesham`s best chance of the half fell to substitute Marcus Palmer but Strudley was up to the task making a fine save. With Evesham pushing for an equaliser holes appeared at the back and in added time Jared Wilson prevented Stow from doubling the Crusaders lead with a fortuitous block on the goalline.
EVESHAM UNITED: Cross, Wilson, Hyde, Sysum, Jackson, J.Blake, Downing, Adkins, Brown (Palmer 68), Kandekore (Clarke 81), Gayton (Hicks 81).
Subs not used : Hardwick and A.Blake.
Referee: Mr E.Smart (Rowley Regis)