FOOTBALL: Clive gets the message across to his Ciren Town tykes

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Kyle Pitts, the Development Team captain (3189374) Kyle Pitts, the Development Team captain (3189374)

CIRENCESTER TOWN’S first team are not the only side based at the Corinium Stadium topping their league.

At the halfway stage of the season, the Development Team are looking down from the head of the Uhlsport Hellenic Division Two West table.

What’s more, they have one over their illustrious seniors having yet to be beaten in their league – eight wins and three draws from 11 games so far.

Founded in 2009 to create a pathway from the older junior sides at the club into adult football, no one could have predicted the Development Squad’s success.

Already, a number of players from the ‘reserves’ are holding down regular places in the first team, youngsters like Ellis Dunton, Aidan Bennett, Brad Hooper and Shane Bumphrey.

And several more are snapping at their heels, competing for places in Brian Hughes’ Southern League first XI.

Tim Bond started the season with the first team and looked accomplished; striker Jack Smith has featured in a few fixtures including an appearance in the FA Cup and Adam Clatworthy has provided cover in goal at times. Perhaps most pleasing of all has been the rise of Jacob Davidge, who arrived at the start of the season from last year’s successful U16s squad managed by Jim Luce.

Jacob has been outstanding for the Development team and his tricky wing play has rightly earned call-ups to the first team.

From the opening day of the season – away to Oxford City Nomads (currently second in the league) – there were palpable signs of improvement since the previous campaign. Ciren were 2-0 down in ten minutes on an artificial pitch yet they showed the character to fight back, eventually winning a thrilling encounter 5-4.

Team manager Clive Messenger insisted: “This was a game they would have lost last season.” Having won the League Cup last term, the Development side’s cup performances so far this season have been a mixed bag with defeats in the GFA Challenge Trophy, the Floodlit Cup and the Chairman’s Cup – the last two setbacks, however, did come against first XI rivals.

The positives have been beating Brimscombe & Thrupp 4-0 recently in the President’s Cup and an emphatic 5-1 victory against Letcombe from the first division in the Bluefin Challenge Cup, setting up a mammoth but exciting task of taking on Hellenic Premier leaders Ardley United in late January.

Hughes has happily used many of the Development side in the Southern League (Red Insure) Cup and he has not been let down as they have booked a home tie with Hungerford Town of the Southern Premier next Tuesday (January 7) following two wins.

In addition to the names mentioned above, Kyle Pitts, Dan Roberts, Tom Jehu, Kieran Jones, Liam James and Ollie Pitt are all in the manager’s thoughts as they bid to go to the next level.

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