Evesham United were involved in an eight-goal thriller in their opening Calor League Division One South & West fixture against Taunton Town at the Jubilee Stadium. Despite playing nearly an hour with ten men, Shaun Cunnington`s new-look side were denied victory through Steve Murray`s equaliser two minutes from time.
It was Taunton who opened the scoring after just six minutes, Chris Young created the opening for Rodney Marsh who shot beyond keeper John Bateman. Two goals in two minutes saw the game swing Evesham`s way. First Marcus Palmer held off the challenge of several defenders before finding the net and then on 21 minutes Carl Brown fired United into a 2-1 lead with a first-time shot past Peacocks keeper Lee Matthews. Leading up to half-time Evesham`s cause was not helped when influential midfielder NeilBarnfield was sent-off for dangerous play.
Matt Sysum scored twice
During the interval both goalkeepers were substituted after picking-up first-half injuries. 48-year-old goalkeeping coach Tim Clarke replaced Bateman in the Evesham goal and Owen Irish took over between the sticks for Taunton. And it was Clarke who was picking the ball out of the net next when former United defender Lewis Tasker drove in from 20 yards to make it 2-2 on 65 minutes.
Ten men Evesham came storming back to edge 3-2 ahead with 13 minutes to go, Matt Sysum rising to head home Mitchell Botfield`s free-kick at the back post. Evesham`s joy, however, was short-lived when Tasker`s free-kick beat Clarke to level proceedings at 3-3.
In a frantic end to the game, the outstanding Sysum bagged his second goal once again heading in a Botfield set-piece but with two minutes remaining Taunton substitute Murray pounced to earn the Somerset outfit a share of the spoils.
EVESHAM UNITED: Bateman (Clarke 45), Jackson, Wilson, Millard, Sysum, Botfield, Brown (Holloway 80), Barnfield, Palmer, Dovey, Tambling.
SUBS NOT USED: Rodrigues, Gould and Williams.
REFEREE: Mr C.Smith (Leominster)