EVESHAM United’s defensive lapses handed a 3-2 victory to Cirencester Town as the visitors moved top of Calor Southern Football League Division One South and West.
The Robins lost Neil Barnfield in the warm-up to a back injury and sorely missed the influential midfielder at the Spiers and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium.
Cirencester, already boasting eight league away wins, kicked off with a gale-force wind behind them and took only four minutes to edge in front.
Keeper John Bateman’s attempted clearance fell to James Mortimer-Jones whose deflected shot sailed into an unguarded net. Evesham threatened briefly when the pacey Eliot Kennedy blazed over but Cirencester scored again 10 minutes before half-time.
Lee Smith was brought down by Jared Wilson in the box and Steve Davies confidently scored from the penalty spot.
It was a different story in the second-half with United upping their game and Cirencester content to defend in numbers to protect their lead.
Carl Brown got in a couple of early headers that went wide and Shane Anson cleared off the line from Allton Axton.
United’s pressure was rewarded on 74 minutes when, following an Ed Williams corner, the ball was played back in to Brown who scored from 10 yards.
Evesham’s joy was short-lived when poor marking allowed Smith to restore the Centurions’ two-goal lead with a firm drive past Bateman. But United pulled another goal back with two minutes left.
Substitute Michael Tambling was bundled over in the penalty box by Ben Prictor, who received a second yellow card, allowing United skipper Richard Mansell to net from 12 yards.
This set up a tense finish but Cirencester weathered the storm to take over top spot.
The Robins have a busy festive league spell, visiting Stratford Town on Boxing Day (3pm) before hosting Wimborne Town on Saturday (3pm) and Merthyr on New Year’s Day (1pm).
Evesham: Bateman, Wilson, Mansell, Botfield (Smith 64), Dovey, Axton, Kennedy (Tambling 87), Davis, Brown, Vercesi (Palmer 69), Williams. Subs not used: Millard, Barnfather.