Impressive display by two-goal Lee Smith
Calor Gas Div 1 South & West.
Tiverton Town 1 Cirencester Town 2.
CIRENCESTER TOWN put down an early marker in the new season with a classy and professional victory at the much-heralded and big-spending Tiverton Town.
Showing no signs of a protracted motorway journey which saw them arrive within half an hour of kick-off, Town were electric from the outset.
Two goals from Lee ‘Smudger’ Smith earned them the points, but in truth the scoreline did not accurately reflect their superiority.
The established back five continue to look a formidable unit, with Leigh Henry particularly excellent, while debutant Matt Liddiard was composed in midfield where the rapidly developing Joe Shepherd has also been a find.
But, even at this early stage, it is up front where Ciren appear a different side this season. Will Morford did not recover in time from a knee injury to make his first start so the hard-working Sam Collier led the line, while Steve Davies and Smith swarmed around him – and Tivvy could never get to grips with their pace, trickery and direct running.
Even before Ciren took an early lead, the pair had a fashioned a good chance in the third minute. Davies played Smith through into the box and his firmly-hit cross shot fizzed just wide of the post.
Four minutes later they were in front. Good harrying from the Ciren front men forced Jonathan Viscosi into an under-hit clearance, which Shepherd batted back into the box with interest. A defender failed to deal with the awkward bounce but Smith finished in polished style.
Tivvy, almost unrecognisable from the team Ciren played last season, have drafted in a number of signings with Football League pedigrees, although it was ex-Bodmin Town pairing of Shane Krac and big striker Adam Carter who were exercising the Ciren defence most, while former Forest Green Rovers man Steve Reed pulled the strings in midfield.
On one of the rare occasions in the entire 90 minutes that the hosts put Glyn Garner’s goal under threat , they were level.
Neat build-up play led to a wicked cross coming in from the right aimed at Carter, which Chris Holland could only help into his own net in the 12th minute.
It was a good open contest at this point, but Ciren remained the more potent of the two sides.
A 25-yard rasper from Davies prompted a fine tip-over from Viscosi but from the resulting corner it was 2-1 as Smith swept the low corner home first time on the half volley from 15 yards.
And Smith was denied the hat-trick his fine display deserved when setting his sights from 20 yards only to see his curling right foot effort come back off the inside of the post.
With the rain falling more strongly, the second half was a more scrappy affair. And with Tivvy’s most influential player, Reed, switching to left back to replace Chris Long at the break, the hosts lost their focus and became ragged.
Reed did send a warning shot just wide of the goal in the 61st minute and the generally disappointing Tiverton did belatedly try to fire up some pressure. However, it was nothing that Shayne Anson and his Ciren rearguard could not dampen down, with keeper Garner not required to make a save worthy of the name.
The visitors should have dismissed any fleeting nervousness associated with a one-goal advantage when breaking at pace in the 81st minute. The ball worked its way to sub Aiden Bennett and his firmly-hit strike was superbly saved by Viscosi.
Ciren now face an interesting week, entertaining Evesham and Bridgwater, who compiled nine first-day goals between them.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Anson (capt), Dunton, Mortimer-Jones, Holland, Henry, Shepherd (Hooper, 90), Liddiard, Collier (Bennett, 73), Davies, Smith. Unused subs: Beeden, Bevan, Bond. Standard MoM: Lee Smith – deadly finishing and an enthusiastic presence from the first minute until the 90th.