By Liam Moakes 28/03 Updated: 03/04 15:50
EVESHAM UNITED'S battle to stay in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division is looking increasingly desperate after Saturday's 2-0 loss at third placed Oxford City extended their losing sequence to four games, during which time they have scored just once.
The Robins now have just six matches left to save themselves from the drop to Division One South & West football next season, starting with tomorrow's visit of Bedford Town to St George's Lane.
United manager Matt Clarke made several changes to his side for Saturday's match as Henry Eze returned at centre back after completing a three-match ban and new signing John Griffin partnered Craig Wilding up front following the surprise departure of leading scorer Marcus Palmer to play-off chasing Stourbridge in midweek.
However, it was Oxford who adapted better to the bone hard Court Place Farm Stadium surface and twice in the opening quarter the tricky Kynan Isaac created openings for himself but failed to find the target.
Evesham's first effort on goal arrived on the half hour mark but Griffin dragged his shot wide after escaping his marker on the edge of the box.
It took an element of good fortune for the hosts to take a 36th minute lead when United defender Callum Henry turned Steve Basham's cross into his own net.
Luck was not on the visitors' side as just before the interval they almost levelled in similar circumstances, but on this occasion City's Chris Willmott was lucky the ball rebounded to safety after he had headed against his own bar attempting to clear Griffin's cross.
Eze was moved into midfield for the second half in an attempt to add more physical presence to the visitors' play and he helped make an impact as Evesham improved.
Eze got on the end of Jared Wilson's cross but directed his header wide and then set up Griffin who fired against the legs of advancing keeper Jason Mooney.
However, a lack of concentration at the back led to Oxford's second goal in the 57th minute when the United defence failed to pick up substitute Michael Lyon who ghosted in at the back post for a simple tap in.
To their credit Evesham worked hard to get back into the game and Griffin again went close when his drive was deflected wide with Mooney beaten.
Evesham are now three points and one place below the safety line but Redditch United, the side directly above them, have a vastly superior goal difference, so they effectively are two games away from climbing out of the drop zone, meaning victory tomorrow is of paramount importance.
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