Lewis Clayton has still not given up on his dream of making it as a professional footballer.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper did his chances no harm at all with an outstanding performance against former club Cheltenham Town for Evesham United on Saturday.
He was beaten by Tahvon Campbell’s brace either side of half-time and a header from new Robins signing Andy Williams, after Callum Ebanks had put Evesham ahead at the Jubilee Stadium, where it finished 3-1 to the League Two side.
But Clayton was one of the stand out performers for either side, keeping out a penalty from the normally deadly Conor Thomas after an hour.
He also pulled off fine saves to deny West Brom loanee Finn Azaz and Campbell early on and another from Williams in the second half.
Forward Williams, now 34, was released by Cheltenham at 16 before going to enjoy a successful career in the full-time game.
“I really enjoyed that,” Clayton said. “It was good to see some old faces and I was pleased with my performance.
“It was my first 90 minutes for a while so the legs were feeling it after about an hour and Cheltenham were class.
“The ball just doesn’t stop moving and it was a joy to play against.”
Winchcombe-based Clayton joined Bishop’s Cleeve after being released by Cheltenham at the end of his two-year scholarship in 2018.
He then moved to Sweden to play for fourth tier club IFK Mora before returning to English football with Cirencester Town last summer, also signing dual registration signing forms for Gloucester City in National League North.
After one season at the Corinium Stadium, he switched to Evesham, whose assistant manager is Clayton’s old coach at Cheltenham, Pete Haynes.
“After a long chat with Neil (Hunt, manager), I decided a move to Evesham would be more beneficial for me,” Clayton said.
“Hearing that Pete Haynes was going to be there helped the decision too and having worked with him before made it an easy one.”
Outside of football, Clayton works as a scaffolder, which he says has helped him handle the physicality as his experience in senior football builds.
He remains on a mission to show Cheltenham they should not have let him go.
“I really want to kick on in my career and prove to people that Cheltenham made the wrong decision,” he said.
“My aim for this year is to be consistent, keep improving and have my strongest season yet.
“I think being at Evesham gives me the best chance of achieving that.”