This was a top of the table clash with Salisbury in second and Evesham in third at the top of a very tight Evo-Stik Southern League West Division. It was played in front of the largest crowd of the season at the Jubilee with 357 turning out. With the fixtures between the two sides over the last couple of seasons being very tight affairs, usually with just a single goal separating the sides, there was no reason to believe that today’s game would be any different.
The visitors showed their intent in the first minute when Matt Bennett was on hand to head the ball off the line, after a Salisbury free kick coming in from the left. The Whites most recent signing Luke Hopper was forced to leave the pitch in the 6th minute with a calf injury, just a couple of minutes later the visitors number 9 Owen Howe had a free header, which he headed way over the top of the Evesham crossbar. It was then the home sides chance to put their stamp on the game when Andy Lewis intercepted the ball in his own half, after a pacey run his pass found Carl Brown who in turn put in a superb cross which sadly Adam Mann was unable to get any real contact on the ball.
The visitors went close again this time it was their early substitute Green whose speculative shot hit the top of Evesham’s crossbar, Salisbury then dominated the game for a period but rarely threatening the home sides goal. The biggest threat came in the 22nd minute when Sawyer was forced to make a point blank save from his own player Wellon when the ball seemed to ricochet off him goalward. Evesham striker Adam Mann almost broke the deadlock with a superb shot, that had Searle in the visitor’s goal diving at full stretch to keep the ball out of his net.
In the 31st minute the game ended as a real football contest when the referee saw fit to dismiss three players, Evesham captain Linden Dovey, Archie Haskayne along with Salisbury’s Owen Howe. Despite the reduction in players the game continued to be very tight, neither side creating a real clear-cut chance until the fourth minute of first half added time when Benson’s low cross found Young who tapped the ball into the back of the net in a crowded box.
With the visitors going in at half time a man up and a goal lead, it was going to be an uphill task for the Robins to get back into the game. In the 54th minute the job was to become doubly difficult, Salisbury were awarded a penalty following a foul by the returning Garyn Preen, the penalty was scored by Colson giving Sawyer no chance in the Evesham goal.
Evesham were not going to give the game up without a struggle which became evident just a minute after conceding, a Mann corner found the head of Matt Liddiard whose bullet of a header gave him his 18th goal of the season and Evesham a lifeline in the game.
Salisbury under the instructions of their manager Steve Claridge, were told to keep the ball moving in order to make Evesham chase possession and they did to great effect. With a very wet pitch getting heavier by the minute and a man down it was no surprise that chances would come for Salisbury and they did. A series of poor finishing along with some gallant defending meant the visitors were unable to increase their score line and yet another game between the two sides was decided by an odd goal.
Pictures here by Stuart Purfield
Evesham Utd: Sawyer, Dovey©, Wellon, A Williams (Preen 52), Lewis, Liddiard, Haskayne, Hancock, Brown (Ebbutt 57), Mann, Bennett (Turley 45+1). Sub not used: Dunbar