Injuries and red cards compound Cirencester's misery
Calor Gas Div 1 South & West.
Cirencester Town 1
Bridgwater Town 4.
CIRENCESTER TOWN manager Brian Hughes must have walked under a ladder, spilt some salt and smashed a mirror on Saturday morning because everything that could have gone wrong later in the day for his side did.
Facing Bridgwater Town, another team with a 100 per cent record in the division, Ciren’s hopes were dented even before the start.
Leigh Henry, who has been colossal at the back in the opening two games, was unable even to take part in the warm-up due to a bad back. And before the end of the preliminaries they had lost the services Steve Davies, a key part of their new strike force, with a thigh strain.
When the game started the catalogue of misfortune continued to expand: they were a goal down in three minutes; lost their other centre back Chris Holland through injury before half-time; were victims of a harsh penalty decision when down to ten men in first-half stoppage time; went 3-1 behind two minutes after the restart and had two players sent off in the closing minutes on a day of bizarre decisions from the officials.
Bridgwater beat Ciren 6-1 in the corresponding fixture last season and their fans joyously celebrated afterwards as if they had won the league. As the saying goes, they would probably like to play at the Corinium every week.
Bridgy certainly play to their strengths – there are no airs and graces about the uncompromising back four, in which Bradley Middleton was absolutely outstanding, while up front close- season signing Joe Bushin showed again why he is one of the Southern League’s most prolific strikers.
Bushin only needed a sniff of the goal in the third minute after a cute flick from strike partner Mitchell Page and he ruthlessly buried the ball past Glyn Garner from 15 yards, while Middleton made his first significant contribution in the ninth minute when throwing his body in the way of a goalbound Lee Smith shot from close range.
The game then meandered along uneventfully, with the ball spending far too much time in the air, until Ciren got a toehold in the 42nd minute with a fine Will Morford headed goal from a whipped Smith free kick.
Deep in stoppage time, and with Chris Holland having treatment after coming down heavily in the opposition box, Ciren conceded a penalty at the other end.
A flag-happy linesman alerted the ref to an innocuous Aidan Bennett challenge and Jon Vance restored Bridgwater’s precious lead.
From a good attacking position of their own two minutes into the second half, Ciren were caught on the counter and Bushin again finished brilliantly past Garner from the edge of the box.
In the 56th minute, Bushin did let Ciren off the hook when misjudging a lob over a stranded Garner, but to their credit, Ciren gradually cranked up some pressure.
Sadly, they continued with the bludgeon rather than the rapier that perhaps the absent Davies would have provided and never truly looked like breaking down Middleton and co.
Going 4-2-4 in seach of a goal left them open to counter attacks and Garner had to make three saves in as many minutes as Bridgy broke at pace.
The final ten minutes just compounded Ciren’s misery. On 82 minutes, Joe Shepherd legitimately challenged Chris Wright in the Bridgy box for a 50-50 ball. Referees will inevitably side with an injured keeper in such circumstances and, perhaps influenced by the 22-man mini brawl that followed, Mr Brown red-carded the Ciren midfielder.
Then, in the 90th minute, no Ciren player could get a touch on a teasing Smith cross, Bridgy broke down the other end, and substitute Daine O’Connor found the top corner with a fine angled drive from the edge of the area.
Then to complete a sorry afternoon for the hosts, Jon Beeden disputed a linesman’s decision to flag for a foul by team-mate Ellis Dunton a little too colourfully, picking up his second yellow and a marginally early finish.
Ciren have little time to regroup as they face the trip to unbeaten near-neighbours Supermarine on Bank Holiday Monday.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Anson (capt), Dunton, Mortimer-Jones, Holland (Hooper, 45), Beeden, Shepherd, Liddiard (Collier, 68), Morford, Bennett, Smith. Unused subs: Bromley, Bevan.