Evostik Div 1 South & West.
Didcot Town 2 Cirencester Town 2.
CIRENCESTER TOWN let slip a two-goal first-half lead but still emerged with a battling point in a controversial match at Didcot Town.
Ciren attacked from the outset and took the lead in only the fourth minute when Joe Shepherd’s penetrating cross into the Didcot goal area was deflected into his own net by new signing Luke Carnell.
Full backs Aidan Bennett and Ellis Dunton were linking up well with midfielder Ben Wells and the visitors could have been 2-0 up only for Shepherd’s fine shot to bring out an equally good one-handed save from Marco Belloli-Pereira.
Despite a couple of scoring opportunities for Didcot, they were continually on the back foot with George Washbourne’s silky skills causing problems down the left.
In the 36th minute Ciren did make it 2-0 when Chris Thompson picked up a cleared corner and fed Dunton, whose stinging shot was deflected off captain Ricky Allaway and into the Didcot net.
The half-time break came at the wrong time for Cirencester who had been dominant in the first 45 minutes and it was a different Didcot that emerged after the interval.
In the 50th minute they were back in the game when a chipped cross by Elliott Osbourne-Ricketts was headed home unmarked at the far post by former Centurion Alex Stanley.
Five minutes later, Cirencester felt their opponents should have been reduced to ten men.
Washbourne fouled Osbourne-Ricketts but the Didcot striker appeared to punch the Cirencester player on the ground, only to get away scot free.
Ciren could have eased the considerable pressure on the hour mark. Sam Packer was through on goal when scythed down by keeper Belloli- Pereira.
In another bizarre refereeing decision, Ciren were awarded a free kick, but there was no punishment for last-man Belloli- Pereira. Wells took the resulting free kick but his shot sailed over the bar.
Ciren had further chances to extend their lead but in the 75th minute the visitors conceded a hotly-disputed goal after a goalmouth scramble. Carnell’s header appeared not to have fully crossed the line but the goal was given.
Despite the vital decisions going against them, it was Ciren who still had the best late chances. In the 81st minute, Wells saw his goal-bound effort tipped away by Belloli- Pereira.
And in the last minute of the game, Bennett sent in a glorious cross which substitute Brad Hooper headed inches past the post.
Cirencester Town: Evans, Bennett, Dunton (Beeden, 76), Henry, Thompson, Allaway, Shepherd (Hooper, 76), Mortimer-Jones, Wells, Packer, Washbourne (Collier, 76).