It was more a damp squib than a play-off performance at the Viridor Stadium on Saturday afternoon (25 April) as the Peacocks concluded their Evo-Stik League fixtures with a 1-0 defeat to lowly Wantage Town.
Hopes of a confidence-boosting victory to take into Tuesday’s play-off semi-final unfortunately never materialised as Town, despite dominating possession, lacked a cutting edge in front of goal, allowing the visitors to gain only their eighth league win of the season.
The first half was pretty much one way traffic with Town in control attacking the Fire Station end but unable to break through.
Good play by Jamie Short set up Craig Herrod whose shot was tipped over by Wantage keeper Gareth Tucker and then a quick Steve Kingdon throw found Steve Murray but his effort was parried away by Tucker.
Graham Mercieca drilled a left footer over the bar and then saw a glancing header pushed wide from Kingdon’s lofted ball into the box before Murray failed to connect with Short’s flicked-on corner.
Lloyd Irish made his only save of the half, holding a shot from Jake Johns, but was powerless to prevent Wantage from snatching a shock lead two minutes into the second period when Adam Bruce launched a lob from the left wing over him and into the far corner before Irish also had to touch a curling Ben Whitehead shot wide.
Town responded when Rodney Marsh broke away to feed Mercieca who fired against the post which epitomised Town’s fortunes in front of goal.
Short, named Supporters’ Player of the Year prior to kick-off, was out of luck twice more, Tucker foiling him after he had latched onto Lamar Powell’s pass and then Johns blocking another attempt. Powell, Price and Rodney Marsh failed to take advantage of yet more potential opportunities inside the area before Price had a header ruled out for offside, signalling the end of Town’s hopes of salvaging a point.
Evesham’s victory at Bridgwater enabled them to leapfrog Stratford Town who will now provide the opposition for the play-off showdown on Tuesday evening when the Peacocks will need to show a major improvement to have a chance of success.
Manager Leigh Robinson said:
“I was very disappointed with our performance today. We were wasteful in front of goal and the final third for the third game running.
From the chances we’ve had in the last three games I am staggered we’ve only scored one goal and got one point.
The work rate was there as always and I can’t fault the commitment but going into the play-offs and Somerset Premier Cup final we must rediscover our composure in front of goal.”