WITH talisman Lewis Haldane absent for the first time in the league this season, Jordan Rogers stepped up to the plate with a superb brace to give Yate victory over Evesham.
The visitors could have been out of sight inside the opening 40 minutes after Carl Brown gave them a tenth-minute lead as an out-of-sorts Yate lived dangerously, but Rogers scored either side of half-time to turn the game on its head.
The extent of the back injury which Haldane suffered in the midweek win over Paulton Rovers is not yet known, but Yate showed they can cope without the league’s top goalscorer.
Manager Rob Cousins has also swooped for Luke Bryan from Bitton with the striker making his debut as a late substitute.
Yate fell behind when they failed to deal with a corner. Martin Horsell could not get to the ball when he came off his line and Joe Chandler’s clearance only went as far as Brown, who hammered it into the roof of the net from 15 yards.
Lance Smith looked set to increase Evesham’s advantage when he was sent through on goal by Brown but Horsell came off his line well to block the shot and the striker’s second attempt went a whisker wide.
Yate’s biggest threat came down the left with Cox marauding forward at every opportunity and the left back had a great chance to bring them back on level terms when he exchanged passes with Jordan Ricketts and burst into the box, but the angle was slightly against him and Louis Barnfather tipped his shot around the post.
However, Evesham continued to carve out the better opportunities and when Yate lost their shape after clearing a corner and Marcus Jackson chipped forward, Elliott Kennedy was left free in the box as the flag stayed down but lost control of the ball, allowing Horsell to intervene. However, the goalkeeper was unable to gather the ball and Smith’s powerful shot was bravely blocked by Mitch Harrison, who went off with an eye injury, making a mockery of Evesham’s appeals for handball.
Horsell was required to come off his line once again to deny Smith, who got on the end of a harmless looking through ball when Mitch Tippins was caught napping, but Yate were somehow on level terms on 41 minutes.
Cox got forward once again and sent an inviting low cross into the box, emphatically converted by Rogers.
Yate were able to re-group at the break and produced a much-improved second half display.
Bradley Abraham’s diagonal pass found Ricketts, who cut inside the box and saw his shot saved by Barnfather’s legs.
The Bluebells went ahead on 55 minutes. James Harmer’s corner was slightly behind Rogers but the striker did brilliantly, not only to direct his header goalwards, but to place it perfectly into the corner of the net.
From that point on Yate looked the more likely of the sides to score again. Barnfather acrobatically tipped over from an equally superb 35-yard drive by Tippins that was heading for the top corner and Rogers was inches away to completing his hat-trick with a fierce 30-yard drive, which went over the top.
The win moved Yate back into the play-off places and above local rivals Mangotsfield United for the first time this season.
Their next game is away to Thatcham Town on Tuesday night.
Yate Town: Horsell, Cox, Tippins, Chandler, Harrison (Fletcher, 38), Abraham, Harmer, Bryant (c), Rogers, Ricketts (Bryan, 85), Kamara (Clifford, 57). Subs not used: Jackson, Meaker.
Ref: Mr J Law.
Att: 181 Gazette star man: Jordan Rogers – Led the line brilliantly in the absence of Lewis Haldane.