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Tuesday 29th October 2013 ko 19.45

Southern League South & West Division


MANGOTSFIELD UNITED 3 (Bath 50 Hunt 66 Egan 86) Sawyer sent off 57 (denying a clear goal scoring opportunity)

Att 173

Entry £9

Programme £2

Team sheet FREE

It seems an age since I visited Evesham’s former home at Common Road, in fact well over a decade. Evesham is one of those delightful market towns, built around a meander (in this case the River Avon) with two bridges over it that create traffic chaos. I remember travelling round the one-way system twice before finding the turn for the ground!

The town was founded around an 8th century abbey, one of the largest in Europe, which was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, with only Abbot Lichfield’s Bell Tower remaining. In Evesham’s case the meander is almost closed, making the old town easily fortified but also extremely prone to flooding. However the area has fertile land, and even today the area is noted for the sheer number of market gardens.

Musically speaking, Traffic’s Jim Capaldi was born here, and American singer PJ Proby lives here. In contrast, Harry Styles from One Direction was born in Evesham.

United sold Common Road for housing and left in 2006, ground sharing at Worcester City until Jubilee Stadium on the outskirts of town was built. The new ground should have opened in March 2011, but a wrangle about who was to pay for the access road to the main road meant the ground only opened on 7th July 2012, the ribbon being cut by former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson.

I always feel nervous about any club moving to an out-of-town location, and as you leave there’s a sign saying “Evesham 1 1/4.” I worry that removing the non-matchday trade removes a massive source of bar takings for a Non-League club, and I watched that slowly kill a club local to me, Witney Town.

Whatever my misgivings,  the Jubilee Stadium is a ground perfect for the club’s needs, and is a massive improvement on Common Road. To a groundhopper, its almost insufferably bland but, after all, the groundhopper only visits once.

The issue for Evesham this season is the team. This was a desperately poor display, and after a thoroughly disappointing first half, Mangotsfield took charge, and won comfortably. Evesham manager Shaun Cunnington resigned in the aftermath which was entirely understandable, but the game does require more analysis than I normally would give.

I am more than aware that the referee’s job is a difficult and thankless one but many will have left this game talking more about Brian Durie than the players. He failed take control of a tetchy first half where one yellow card could easily have been two red, and that sowed the seeds for what was to follow.

However it was the dismissal of Mango’s keeper Kevin Sawyer that left many heads shaking. Mangotsfield were already a goal to the good, Ryan Bath having evaded one challenge before firing home. There was little doubt that Sawyer brought down Evesham’s Nat Lewers, and the linesman signalled for a penalty. However Durie overruled the better placed official, and awarded only a free-kick. Worse, despite there being two covering defenders he dismissed Sawyer who departed in a state of high dudgeon. For me he got both parts of the decision wrong.

Goalscorer Bath took his place in goal, (“Because he’s the tallest!!”)  and the most pertinent comment I can make is that he barely had a save to make. The ten men eased away scoring further through Ben Hunt, and an exquisite turn and shot from 20 yards from Josh Egan to finish it off.

As disappointing as much of the game was, I was rather taken by the Mangotsfield travelling support. Numbering just four, the “Inter-Village Firm” have clearly based themselves on the anti-fascist Ultra culture of the likes of St Pauli, and more recently in this country, Clapton FC. What they lacked in numbers they made up for in humour and enthusiasm, and I for one will look out for them on my travels.