Cirencester bag all three points with stout defensive display
Calor Gas Div 1 South & West.
Cirencester Town 2 Mangotsfield Utd 1.
A MAKESHIFT Cirencester Town withstood a second-half assault from The Field to earn the bragging rights against a team which included six former Centurions in its line-up.
Former captain Jamie Reid joined the exodus to the Bristol side in the summer and another ex-skipper, Matt Sysum, made his debut for the visitors after signing forms this week.
Ironically, both players got on the scoresheet, Reid deep into stoppage time when his side’s cause was already lost, while it was Sysum’s own goal in the 75th minute which took a huge amount of pressure off the hosts.
Injuries and suspensions had forced Ciren boss Brian Hughes into a major reshuffle before the off. Captain Shayne Anson, who has been carrying a groin injury, joined Chris Holland and long-term absentee Ben Wells on the sidelines, while Joe Shepherd (three games) and Jon Beeden (one game) both started suspensions for recent red cards .
Meanwhile, striker Will Morford had been recalled to Gloucester City after his brief loan spell, although his Tigers team-mate Matt Liddiard has been left behind and looks set for an extended run in the Ciren team, especially on the back of his excellent midfield display against the Mangos.
The Cirencester back four – James Mortimer-Jones, Leigh Henry, Ellis Dunton and Aidan Bennett – had a very unfamiliar look, but they were all magnificent on the day, with Dunton, in particular, proving a revelation in the role.
Kev Sawyer was the busiest of the two keepers in a competitive opening 20 minutes, saving well from Steve Davies and Matt Liddiard, but Josh Egan grazed the top of the crossbar for the Mangos in the 23rd minute and then four minutes later Ben Hunt, whose direct running was causing Ciren some problems, won a corner which Shaun Lamb headed over the bar when he should have troubled keeper Glyn Garner.
Right on the half hour, Sawyer could not hold a vicious Collier pile-driver but the striker was not denied two minutes later. As the Mangos defence backed off him, Collier found Sawyer’s Achilles heel to be something hit low and hard to his left and Cirencester took their deserved goal lead at half-time.
The Field pushed men forward in the second half, putting the hosts under pressure, but they were stretched and vulnerable against the counter and on one occasion a Neil Arndale block on an Aidan Bennett shot caused his keeper to tiptoe back very smartly before tipping the ball over the bar.
As the game went on, however, Ciren’s breaks became few and far between, and though his back line defended stoically, Garner had to produce three point blank saves with his body in a ten-minute spell from the hour mark, as the challenges around the pitch started to become a little more feisty.
Ciren were defending desperately at this point but, after Collier had tested Sawyer again in a rare Ciren attack, the home side earned some welcome breathing space with a decidedly fortuitous goal.
Lee Smith, who along with his striking partner Steve Davies, had been lively and energetic throughout, drove into the right side of the Mangos box and unleashed a shot from 18yards. However, it took such a deflection of the hapless Sysum before threading through Sawyer’s legs and into the back of the net that it must surely go down as an own goal.
All 11 Ciren players subsequently did their job in killing off the game in the final 15 minutes and it was an injustice given their stout defending when they conceded in the 93rd minute, Reid poking home from close range from a free kick into the box.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Mortimer-Jones, Bennett, Bond, Dunton, Henry (capt), Liddiard, Hooper, Collier (Bevan, 82), Davis, Smith. Unused subs: Bromley, Hill.
Standard MoM: Ellis Dunton.