Three errors prove costly as Manor Farm shoots themselves in the foot away to Evesham United, writes William Ledbury.
Prior to the match, Farm were boosted by the returns of Theo Llewellyn and Josh Ford who made straight returns to the starting lineup, with the latter featuring for the first time this season since he picked up a knock away to Merthyr Town in pre-season.
Following a frantic start to the match, Farm deservedly opened the scoring in the 18th minute through Jake Gosling. The winger demonstrated why he is one of the division’s finest players when he danced past the Evesham defence and struck the ball with ferocity into the back of the net.
Farm’s next chance came through Lloyd Mills who lashed his strike well over the Evesham net.
Early signs of Farm’s downwards spiral came in the 34th minute when the linesman deemed Ben Whitehead to be onside, and the forward showed excellent composure to score past Ben John.
Just four minutes later, Owen Howe rightfully restored Manor Farm’s lead when he stroked home an Evander Grubb cross to make it four goals in all competitions for the striker.
In the 42nd minute, former Gloucester City and Weston-Super-Mare midfielder Chris Knowles pounced on a misplaced clearance from captain Aron Robbins and looked set to score an easy finish – but the defender all but made up for his mistake to slide the ball off the goal line to safety.
As the referee signaled for half time, the Farm had the wind in their sales and a lead to protect. Lashenko’s side dominated the opening 45 minutes of the match, creating several chances, and it looked like all three points would be heading back to The Creek. Yet, as this season has shown – trouble and misfortune would haunt the side once more.
Ben John’s heroics in the Farm net denied Evesham once again, flinging his body in front of a melee of shots in a goalmouth scramble.
In the 57th minute, Man of the Match winner Evander Grubb couldn’t believe that he hadn’t extended Farm’s lead when his powerful header was tipped behind by Fraser Barnsley.
Then two minutes later, Farm were left rueing missed opportunities, and Evesham dealt the deadliest blow after Chris Knowles sprung Josh Ford at the back, allowing Kyle Belmonte to score. Instead of clearing his lines, the returning Ford chose to take on the Robins attack and was unsuccessful in his attempts, allowing Evesham to undeservedly draw level.
The Farm didn’t let that goal stop them in their pursuit of three points, and they began a siege on Evesham’s goal. First, Grubb’s trickery led to a sliding pass that found an unmarked Howe at the back post – but the forward overcooked his strike and cleared the crossbar from only a few yards out. Within a few moments, Farm were left holding their heads in their hands after a shot cannoned off the base of the Evesham post.
On 78 minutes the turnaround was complete for the home side. Steve Kingdon and Mason Winter went to attack the same ball, but both clattered into each other leaving Ford to deal with three attackers charging at John’s goal. Owen James for Evesham had time and space in the area and slammed home what was to be the match’s winner.
As the Portwaymen continued to attack the home side’s goal, Evesham held firm to secure the victory. While Lashenko’s team lost on Saturday afternoon, that performance was arguably their best of the season – and certainly wasn’t deserving of defeat. The Farm now prepares for a cup tie next weekend, traveling to Wimborne Town in the First Qualifying Round of the Isuzu FA Trophy.
(STAR MAN – Evander Grubb)