Cirencester confident ahead of Hungerford trip
6:02pm Tuesday 29th January 2013 in Sport
BRIAN HUGHES believes Saturday’s clash with league leaders Hungerford Town will be the first acid test of a Cirencester Town side which has undergone a radical recent overhaul.
Three disappointing games at the start of December against Paulton, Poole and Bridgwater, when they conceded 12 goals, effectively derailed Town’s play-off challenge.
In the first of those matches, manager Hughes also lost his influential captain Jamie Reid with a broken leg But four recent signings have helped steady the ship, resulting in five draws out of the last six games – and Reid has now returned to full training with a view to being in the matchday squad on Saturday.
Cirencester kept another clean sheet at Evesham United’s Jubilee Stadium at the weekend when all four new boys – keeper Glyn Garner and centre back Leigh Henry along with debutants Shane Anson (right back) and Academy winger Josh Morse all featured strongly.
“I am so massively pleased to have Glyn on board,” said Hughes, of the former Welsh international stopper.
“We have had lots of problems with our goalies over the last 18 months but Glyn has been a breathe of fresh air.
“The arrangement where he just joins us on matchdays because he lives and works in Wales suits everyone.
“He’s a pleasure to deal with and I thank my lucky stars that he has already indicated that he wants to be involved with us next season as well.”
Hughes is doing his utmost to include Henry in his future plans, too, after coveting the centre half for a number of seasons.
“Leigh came initially on loan from Maidenhead United in the Blue Square South. They have now come to an agreement to cancel his contract and he has signed non-contract terms with us.
“Leigh seems happy playing regularly and has made a big difference in settling down our defence. He is enjoying his time with us and we are trying to look after him.”
Hughes hopes his second raid on Hellenic side Slimbridge’s squad for their captain Anson proves more fruitful than his first – keeper David Evans moving on after just five games.
“The difference with Shane is that he has dived in enthusiastically from the outset,” said Hughes. “He likes our lads and they like him.
“Shane was keen to step up and play at a higher level. He’s a no-nonsense right back and he was absolutely excellent against Evesham.”
Hughes’ ace in the hole, however, could yet be 19-year-old winger Morse.
Morse is in his third year with Steve Lowndes’ Cirencester Academy which meant he was ineligible for the club’s FA Youth Cup run but he has continued to star for the youth team and Cirencester’s Development Squad under Clive Messenger.
“Clive has always spoken highly of Josh and we think he has the potential to be every bit as good as our best previous Academy players like James Constable, Chris Zebrowski and Matt Green – as long as he applies himself.
“Josh had a really good debut against Evesham.”
As for Reid, the Cirencester captain is champing at the bit to return after his injury setback. “Jamie had his first full training session with us on Thursday and it was all I could do to keep him off the bench last Saturday,” said Hughes.
“But with another week’s training behind him, he will be involved in some form against Hungerford.”
Having ticked a number of problem-area boxes in recent weeks, Hughes knows there is still one shortcoming in his side to address. “We were brilliant in the first half at Evesham but we just could not score. We have become the draw specialists so the next stage is to try and find a cutting edge up front.”