A strong second-half performance at the DCS Stadium enabled Evesham United to claim a 1-0 victory in the Boxing Day derby with Stratford Town. Carl Brown`s 9th goal of the campaign earned United their third away win and saw Paul Collicutt`s side leapfrog Stratford into 14th spot in the Calor League Division One South & West.
It was a different story in the first-half with United`s makeshift defence under pressure for long spells with the aerial threat of leading scorer Richard Gregory and Tyrone Fagan causing all sorts of problems. Stratford, however, paid the price for not turning possession into goals when the preditory Brown struck with seventeen minutes to go. For the opening quarter of the game, United were penned in their own half but a series of near misses and good goalkeeping by the reliable John Bateman enabled United to go in at half-time with the game scoreless. The only clear opening to fall Evesham`s way saw Brown escape the clutches of the Stratford back-four but Town keeper Andy Kemp spread himself well to deny the on-song striker.
Evesham made a much better start to the second-half and the outstanding Linden Dovey was unlucky not to make the breakthrough when his shot was scrambled off the line by former Evesham midfielder Sam Adkins. Then in the space of five minutes, Kemp pulled off two impressive saves to prevent Brown from finding the net and then got a hand to touch over Ed Williams`dipping free-kick. But it was Brown who deservedly got on the scoresheet beating Kemp with an excellent shot on-the-turn following Williams` pin-point delivery from the left. Stratford hit back and Bateman somehow pushed aside Chris Sterling`s shot when the winger looked certain to score. In the process Bateman got injured and replaced by substitute Louie Barnfather for the final six minutes. Kemp then went up for a succession of late corners in an attempt to salvage a late equaliser but United kept their nerve to make it just two defeats in ten since Collicutt`s appointment.
Bateman (Barnfather 84), Wilson, Mansell, Barnfield, Dovey, Tambling, Kennedy (Jackson 58), Davis, Brown, L.Smith (Palmer 68), Williams.
SUB NOT USED: J.Smith
REFEREE: Mr R.Dadley (Coventry)