This local derby had been billed by Evesham supporters as ‘El Collico’ due to manager Paul Collicutt having managed both sides.
Both teams started the game looking nervous, with neither side seeming to be able to hold on to the ball. The nerves from the home side were understandable as nothing less than three points would keep them in the play-off hunt. As for the visitors their fate looks doomed as they sit at the foot of the Southern League West Division, some 8 points adrift at the start of the game.
It was the visitors whose nerves were calmed first, in the 9th minute former Evesham player Jack Watts dribbled the ball into the Evesham box, where he was able to get a very soft shot away in a which found the back of the net, beating what looked like an unsighted Kevin Sawyer in the Evesham goal.
Bishops Cleeve restricted their hosts to several half chances during the rest of the first half, looking anything but a bottom of the table side. There were opportunities for Evesham, Carl Brown acrobatically got on the end of a Garyn Preen cross, Jordan Bryan dragged a shot wide and Archie Haskayne hit a low drive straight at the keeper. Cleeve also had an opportunity to increase their lead when Joe Noakes’ header went just over the bar on 27 minutes from a James McCarthy corner.
As the second half got underway it was immediately visible that ‘The Robins’ were not going to give up a play off spot without a fight. Adam Mann’s shot in the first minute of the half appeared to skim the bar.
Then came three minutes that completely changed the direction of the points. Haskayne was able to move across the Cleeve box with the ball and eventually get his shot away which struck the post and found it’s way into the back of the net. Just two minutes later Haskayne hit a rocket of a shot that former Robins keeper, Sam Gilder had to pull off the best save of the game to keep the scores level. With the pressure building on the visitors Evesham’s top scorer Adam Mann found himself on the edge of the Cleeve box with the ball at his feet, his shot which can only be described as a rocket, found the roof of the net, much to the delight of most of the 269 spectators.
During the remainder of game, it was Evesham that took control eventually taking all 3 points keeping themselves in a very tight play-off position. Bishop’s Cleeve battled extremely hard for the whole 90 minutes, leaving their supporters to think if they had battled like this throughout the season they would not be facing relegation.
The Robins now face 2 away games in 3 days with away games at Shortwood on Thursday evening and a trip to Mangotsfield next Saturday, with the pressure still on as it looks like nothing, but maximum points will do.
Pictures by Stuart Purfield here
Evesham Utd: Sawyer, Dovey, Hancock, Turley, Lewis, Liddiard, Bryan (Mahew 78), Haskayne, Brown (Dunbar 50), Mann, Preen (Ebbutt 73). Sub not used: Williams