FOOTBALL: Pritchett and Reid are back on Cirencester Town's radar
CIRENCESTER TOWN may be the Christmas No.1 but boss Brian Hughes has still made an audacious bid to bring two of his former players back to the Corinium as he tries to secure his team’s place at the top of the Calor Southern League Div One South & West table.
Despite suffering just two defeats in their last 17 league games – against Clevedon and Yate – Town have on occasion been perceived as ‘lightweight’.
Hughes’ remedy is to put in seven-day approaches for centre back Mark Pritchett (Shortwood United) and midfielder Jamie Reid (Mangotsfield), two of the most uncompromising players ever to wear a Cirencester shirt.
“We are definitely short on numbers, due to Chris Holland’s ongoing injury and Jamie Edge’s exit to Hereford,” insisted Hughes.
“When Chris plays we have a rock solid back five, but he has missed more than half our games.
“His latest ankle injury has seen him out of the side for seven weeks. We have now arranged for him to have a scan as we don’t yet know when he might be back playing.
“So I have put in ‘seven days’ for Pritch. He’s a good aggressive centre half with plenty of experience at this level. He’s played for us before and knows Shane Anson (captain) and Warren Evans (coach) very well.”
Pritchett, who starred for Shortwood against his old club Cirencester last season, has blossomed since being switched to centre back, accumulating five man of the match awards this season including in the FA Cup tie against League One Port Vale.
His no-nonsense style has, however, picked up nine yellow cards before the turn of the year.
Midfielder Reid, a member of Ciren’s last promotion-winning side, is no stranger to the referee’s notebook either, but he too has strung together a number of dominant displays for Mangotsfield this season.
Pritchett must make his decision by Christmas Day and Reid the following weekend.
Reflecting on the Yate defeat which has prompted some of his squad rebuilding plans, Hughes said: “We had three ball players in the middle of the park and lacked some aggression. Two or three of our team had it, but we needed four or five – especially if our A-game does not work.
“The other teams at the top – Yate, Merthyr and Paulton Rovers – are all very strong in that department and if we don’t match them toe to toe I can see us being perceived as lightweight. It is something I have got to address.
“But my boys are not Real Madrid and they can have an off day.
“We got a reaction after the Clevedon defeat and we got it again when going to Evesham and getting the three points on Saturday.”
Hughes has no truck with Hereford of the Conference who came in last week to sign his former Arsenal and West Brom midfielder Edge.
“When Jamie came to join us in training he was close to packing in the game,” said Hughes.
“We made him feel wanted and promised we would get him back in the shop window and that’s just what has happened.
“He’s a player who has got everything in his locker and he has been terrific for us. In fact, it’s been the perfect arrangement for both sides.
“He brought his training kit back on Thursday, said goodbye properly, and we all wish him well.”
Reflecting on his side’s lofty position, Hughes added: “For a team that had been talking about dropping down to the Hellenic League, I think we have had a marvellous 2013 and the Development Team are clear in their table, too.
“If you offered me 49 points after the first 21 games I would have bitten your hand off.
“We are comfortable with what we are doing and football is much more enjoyable when you’re winning. Long may it continue.”