Match Report: Bideford 1 vs Evesham United 1

Evesham`s 1-1 draw at Bideford has all-but guaranteed a Southern League Division One South & West play-off place.
United lie six points ahead of North Leigh with two games left but the Robins goal difference is 20 better than the Oxfordshire club`s. But there were more injury woes in north Devon with the returning Bradley Gray lasting only nine minutes after coming on before being forced off with a recurrence of an ankle injury and is out for the rest of the season. Lewis Binns suffered the same fate, while top scorer Lance Smith also on his return, finished the game hobbling. With Joe Turley, Sam Pearson, Elliot Kennedy and Liam Harding already taking no further part this campaign, manager Paul Collicutt looks like heading into the play-offs with a heavily depleted squad.
Collicutt said after the game at the Sports Ground, “Injuries are crippling us at the minute and picking up another three today doesn`t help matters. I havn`t been able to name a settled side since before the turn of the year but
under difficult circumstances the players have done the club proud and speaks volumes for the strength we have in depth. He added, “The togetherness we have has seen us over the line and full credit to the boys for doing that. Despite all the setbacks we have remained positive and all the hard work has been rewarded with a place in the play-
offs. “The point this afternoon was a massive one for us because I didn`t want to go into the last week needing to get something. I`ve been telling my strikers all season to get shots on target and Manny`s goal was a prime example
because it lacked a bit of power but still ended up in the back of the net. “The results went for us today which makes a change and we can go to Totton next Saturday relaxed with the job done and under no pressure.

Mann – equaliser

As early as the 2nd minute United were denied an opening goal with Ian Sampson clearing Matt Williams` header off the line. At the opposite end Kevin Sawyer got down well to push away Ben Wood`s drive but on 19 minutes the United defence allowed the ball to drop in the area and Ben Watson fired past Sawyer for 1-0. Bideford enjoyed a spell of pressure resulting in Nick Stanley getting in a good block on Sean Downing who was about to pull the trigger.

But with ten minutes left in the half and after good work by Ashley Williams, Mann got in a shot on the edge of the box that somehow bobbled its way  through the clutches of keeper Joe Moore and into the far corner.
In the second-half a procession of players leaving the pitch disrupted United`s pattern of play allowing Bideford to look the more threatening. But with the clock ticking down United missed a great opportunity to snatch all three points with Jordan Bryan bursting his way through the home defence but with only Moore to beat the midfielder lifted his shot over the crossbar.
At the final whistle, news tricked through that both Swindon Supermarine and Mangotsfield United had lost and it was left to the United players and supporters to celebrate a second play-off appearance in three seasons.
Sawyer, Dovey, Stanley, Haskayne, M.Williams, A.Williams, Preen (Smith 61), Bryan, Fahy, Mann, Binns (Gray 69 (Magee 78).
Subs not used: Odiero, Gilder
Attendance: 257