BOSS Paul Collicutt admits he is still smarting over Evesham United's 5-2 defeat to Cirencester Town on Saturday.

Hotshot Ben Whitehead, a target for the Robins earlier in the season, plundered a hat-trick at the Jubilee Stadium as Ciren made off with the spoils.

It was United's fifth home league defeat of the season and second to a Cirencester side that ousted Collicutt's men from the FA Trophy in October.

Evesham's man in the dugout acknowledged his side had been responsible for their own downfall but questioned a pair of offside calls, one that prevented United from taking the lead and another when no flag saw Town move 3-1 in front.

“The result left a bitter taste in the mouth and hurt," said Collicutt.

“We had four efforts on goal before they scored from their first but we all need to take it all on board, learn from it and move on. The mistakes are costing us and it comes to a point where you need to stop making them and be strong.

“Mentally as much as physically, we have to be tough. We have to man up to improve our home form because that will be the difference between us being in the play-offs or not."

Mat Liddiard, who got both of Evesham's goals, had a shot repelled which Carl Brown tucked away only to be denied by the assistant referee.

Henry Spalding put Town in front from a Tommy Anderson cross 12 minutes in with Louis Spalding crossing for Whitehead to double the advantage just past the half-hour mark.

Liddiard's unmarked header a minute before half-time gave Evesham hope but Whitehead notched early in the second on the rebound from Adam Connolly's volley.

“The turning point was their goal within five minutes of starting again and it came down to a big decision from the assistant referee," said Collicutt.

"He had three big calls in the game and I felt they had a big say in the outcome. Their lad had a shot from 20 yards, Ben Whitehead was six or seven yards out.

“The lads had pushed out and he headed it in. Everyone stopped and I had issues with the assistant over that decision, I really thought it was offside and so did many others."

Henry Spalding and Whitehead tucked in close-range finishes as Evesham foraged for a way back with Liddiard's late goal proving scant consolation.

United remain in the thick of the play-off battle but trail Salisbury by seven points in the race for the second automatic promotion place.

“First place looks like it is going to Taunton and rightly so, they have been the best team in the league," said Collicutt.

“Salisbury got beaten last week and if we could have got a positive result we would have been a lot closer all of a sudden.

“Teams will feel pressure which was why this result was so disappointing. I do still feel we have good chance of getting into the top six and we have not given up on second spot but we have make sure we pick up points between now and when we play Salisbury.

“The games are only going to get bigger from here."

Evesham: Sawyer, Dovey, Wellon, Lewis, Bryan (Dunbar, 67), Haskayne, Liddiard, Turley (Hancock, 79), Binns, Brown (Powell, 62) Mann. Unused subs: Corrick, Bennett.