Evo-Stik Div 1 South & West.
Cirencester Town 1 Paulton Rovers 3.
CIRENCESTER TOWN were the architects of their own downfall as they gifted two soft goals to visitors Paulton Rovers in the second half, which turned the game on its head.
Town, who lost influential centre back and captain Matt Sysum to Evesham last month, lined up without three other experienced members of their back four – Allard, Thompson and Beeden.
But they did introduce left winger George Washbourne, who has come on a month’s loan from Forest Green Rovers.
Given that the visitors edged the first half on points, Town will have been delighted to go in at the break one up, and the opening goal of the game in the 36th minute was a cracker.
Ben Wells fed Aidan Bennett down the right channel and the young full back, who had a good game, sent in a crisp cross which Sam Collier laid off for his strike partner Scott Griffin to score with a sweetly-struck, first time volley from the edge of the box in the 36th minute.
Ciren started the second half as strongly as they had finished the first and thought they had gone 2-0 ahead five minutes in when Collier rounded off a flowing move by heading home from close range, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
Then, in the 52nd minute, Ben Lacey was booked for a late tackle on Cirencester captain Jamie Reid which was to have a significant influence on the game.
Reid never looked comfortable thereafter and he was one of two defenders who failed to cope with the pace and strength of Nick McCottie in the 56th minute. But the striker’s job was made much easier when Ciren goalie Lee Clatworthy, racing impetuously out of his goal, was caught in no man’s land and the No.9 shot into the empty net from 25 yards.
Ciren still looked the better team but again shot themselves in the foot in the 68th minute. The inexperienced defence spurned two opportunities to clear their lines and were punished when James Billing acrobatically steered a header past Clatworthy.
Ciren lost another experienced player when the limping Reid was replaced by Sam Packer, while Joe Shepherd came on for Washbourne.
But it was Paulton’s sub, the lively Brandon Barnes, who was the key player in the last 15 minutes.
He was twice denied by good saves from Clatworthy, but the Ciren stopper could do nothing about Barnes’ exquisite curling, left-footed chip from 25 yards in the 84th minute.
Cirencester Town: Clatworthy, Bennett, Dunton, Mortimer- Jones, Wells, Hawkins, Reid (Packer, 76), O'Brien, Collier, Griffin, Washbourne (Shepherd, 76). Unused sub: Bumphrey.
Standard MoM: Ellis Dunton.