Cirencester Town take their FA Cup win sequence to three
FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.
Cirencester Town 2.
AFC Porchester 0.
A MAN-OF-THE-MATCH display from Lee Smith helped Cirencester Town past AFC Porchester and into the draw for the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.
They are now just two victories away from facing Football League oppostion in the first round proper, four wins from potential clash with a Premiership side – and eight wins from a Wembley semi-final.
Smith maintained his excellent start to the season with a goal in each half – and Graham Rix’s Wessex League side found him unplayable throughout .
The visitors were rocked by two serious head injuries within the first seven minutes and yet they dominated the opening half-hour with some lively and energetic football.
Jade Morrison had to leave the field after Brad Hooper’s high boot had caught him in the head with less than 60 seconds on the clock. The clash was purely accidental but that will be no consolation to Morrison, who was taken to hospital where he was expected to require 20 stitches in the wound.
He was joined there by Liam Cresswell who emerged from an aerial challenge with Shayne Anson in the seventh minute with blood pouring from a suspected broken nose. Captain Anson, restored to the starting line-up after a period out with a groin injury, was yellow-carded for the clash.
The early interruptions seemed to unsettle the hosts more than the visitors, however, and AFC Porchester came at their higher league opponents with a purpose. But they were never able to captialise on their dominance or trouble Glyn Garner in the Ciren goal with a meaningful strike on target.
Then, against the run of play, Smith, who had minutes earlier been denied a penalty when marauding into the Porchey box, scored a brilliant goal to break the deadlock.
In the 31st minute, a high headed clearance found him 20 yards out and after one bounce he rifled an unstoppable volley into the top right corner.
Goals change games and for the last hour Ciren were in the ascendancy.
Collier shot just wide from the edge of the box, Anson crossed when a shot looked the better option and Smith once more skinned his marker before his dangerous cross was desperately forced out for a corner.
Ciren did have a setback when Jon Beeden landed heavily on his back after an aerial challenge deep into added time and had to be stretchered off.
It was that man Smith again in the 52nd minute. Picking up a deep ball from Brad Hooper, Smith cut inside his marker on the left side of the box and curled a delightful shot out of Luke Hutchings’ reach and into the Portchester net for 2-0.
It could have been 3-0 directly from the restart as Ciren swept forward and Hutchings had to produce a fine save to deny Collier.
It was the 57th minute before AFC Portchester got their first chance on target – a Musselwhite header from free kick which was comfortably gathered by Garner.
Indeed, the normal prolific pairing of Musselwhite and Kirby were kept remarkably quiet by the Ciren defence and Garner was called upon far less than in recent weeks.
With 66 minutes played, and with three Porchey subs already used, Josh Holmes picked up a leg injury and had to play the rest of the game as a virtual passenger, ending any real chance of a comeback, although the away side did give it a go and Simon Woods kept working hard in their attack.
Ciren continued to create chances: Henry saw a header from a Hooper corner come back off the post and they wasted two late breaks when outnumbering the opposition.
But in the end it was a professional job done, a blistering display from Smith, and the club can dream of the £7,500 prize that a win in the Third Qualifying Round would bring.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Anson, Beeden (Bond, 45), Mortimer-Jones, Holland, Henry, Shepherd, Hooper, Collier (Bevan, 77), Davies, Smith (Bumphrey, 80).