Evo-Stik League Div 1 South & West.
Cirencester Town 2 Bishops Cleeve 4.
CARL BROWN returned to haunt his old club with a sizzling hat-trick that gave visitors Bishops Cleeve a deserved 4-2 victory.
Brown never truly added prolific goalscoring to his undoubted electric pace when playing for Cirencester, but he was unstoppable in front of goal on this occasion with his three second-half strikes.
It took Cirencester all of an hour to turn up for the contest and when they did it became a cracking end-to-end encounter.
The home side were second best throughout the first period, although they had taken the lead in the 11th minute.
A low raking ball from Alex Allard found its way through the Cleeve back line to a possibly offside Sam Collier and, though James Nortei saved his first attempt on goal, the striker buried his second effort.
For all their dominance, Cleeve created little – keeper Lee Clatworthy being a match for their two best chances – yet Ciren boss Brian Hughes will have been delighted to get to the interval ahead.
Within nine minutes of the second half, however, his side were behind.
Brown earned a soft free kick in the 48th minute and his strike partner Matt Liddiard beat Clatworthy with a clever back header from the set piece. In the 54th minute, Brown pounced on a Cleeve shot coming back off the post to hammer home the rebound.
At last Ciren came alive, and for the next pulsating 20 minutes or so matched their confident opponents. Full back Alex Allard brought Ciren level in the 62nd minute when bundling the ball over the line from two yards after Nortei had managed to touch a trademark Matt Sysum header from a corner on to the underside of the bar.
With 20 minutes left, Clatworthy saved a Michael Tambling flick at full stretch before Collier was twice denied in the space of 60 seconds. Firstly, his lob was cleared off the line by Jon Crowford and then, as he steered a Ben Wells shot goalwards, Nortei made a point-blank save.
The fifth goal was always going to be key and it fell to Brown, whose will-o’- the-wisp pace sent him clear of the Ciren defence in the 85th minute before he finished clinically.
Then in stoppage time, Brown mugged Ciren full back Aidan Bennett, who otherwise had a fine game, before turning to complete his hat-trick with a rasping shot.
Cirencester Town: Clatworthy, Allard, Bennett, Sysum (capt), Wells, Hawkins, Shepherd, Mortimer-Jones, Collier, Griffin (Hale, 86), Packer. Unused subs: Bailey, Dunton, Beedon.