Pictures courtesy of EUFC photographer Stuart Purfield.
Match report courtesy of Jon Green, Paulton Rovers

With the Rovers squad looking a little depleted after the departures of Kyle Tooze and Will Harvey, the opening minutes looked comfortable with a strong Evesham team being restricted to playing in their their own half in the main. However, the first half chance fell to the hosts when Kyle Belmonte’s shot from distance flew comfortably over the crossbar.

The chance was the point in the game when Evesham started to grasp the upper hand with their number 7, Owen James, looking particularly dangerous on the left flank. Two good chances for Evesham soon went begging with Aaron Sainsbury pulling off a good save to stop the first.

Despite Evesham taking some control, Rovers still looked dangerous on the break, when on 19 minutes, Mike Ilea’s pinpoint cross-field pass found Ed Butcher who stormed into the box but shot agonisingly wide.

The next twenty minutes or so saw Evesham getting the better of the chances but with Rovers never fully out of the game with half chances falling to both Will Hailston and Leo Eglin. Neither keeper was particularly troubled and the half seemed to be looking to end goalless.

However, it was a memorable goal that eventually broke the deadlock for Evesham on 42 minutes. Rovers had given a free kick away in a seemingly innocuous position but the ball was fed to Jordan Lymn on the right side of the Rovers box, he gave it back to Alfie Dunn who picked out Owen Jones, who had now popped up on the right, and he curled a shot into the goal from the edge of the box giving Aaron Sainsbury no chance.

Rovers reply came just a few minutes later when, on the stroke of half-time, David O’Hare collected the ball in the Evesham half, turned his man and slipped in Leo Eglin who scored with a low shot that went underneath Edward Brearey in the Evesham goal. Rovers could probably count themselves to be a little lucky to be level despite never really being out of the game.

The second half started much like the first with both teams looking cagey. An early shot from Dan Griffiths for Evesham only troubled the watching spectators behind the goal and a strong run and cross on the right from James Byrne only found the Evesham defence. Evesham once again slowly started to take control and on 55 minutes had two half chances. A free kick given away on the edge of the box on 59 minutes also gave them a chance. But the shot also went over the bar.

With a similar pattern to the first half, Rovers looked to be relying more and more on the pacey runs of Ed Butcher on the left although it was left-back, Nuno Felix, who came closest to scoring in the 63rd minute. As he moved forward and cut in, the space opened to give him time to produce a brilliant outward curling shot that evaded the Evesham keeper but crashed off the crossbar.

Two minutes later, it was Evesham who took the lead when Owen Jones crossed the ball low into the box to Daniel Griffiths who attempted a back heel flick. Sainsbury was able to stop the shot with his legs but the ball only spilled back to Griffiths who put the ball in from close range.

Rovers responded with a header from a corner that didn’t trouble the Evesham keeper and Leo Eglin forced another corner with a chance. On 74 minutes, Ed Butcher made another of his trademark runs from the left only to find his shot also hit the crossbar.

Soon after, Evesham replaced the dangerous Owen Jones which made them somewhat less threatening. Rovers brought on Paulo Borges and Dan Dempsey for Chris Peck and David O’Hare and the final ten minutes saw Rovers pushing to get an equaliser. In the 85th minute, Butcher created himself another chance but his shot went over the bar. But in reality, there was never another clear cut chance that really troubled the Evesham defence.

Overall, Evesham United deserved the points, but Rovers will be disappointed not to have walked away with something from the game with the crossbar, twice, preventing goals.

Man of match Owen James puts Evesham in front.

Attendance: 324