FOOTBALL: Hughes trying to fend off another bid for star striker Smith

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Lee Smith, 21 goals in 22 league games Lee Smith, 21 goals in 22 league games

CIRENCESTER TOWN boss Brian Hughes captured one of his two Christmas targets in Shortwood centre back Mark Pritchett but he begins 2014 trying to fend off another bid for his prolific striker Lee Smith, the league’s joint-top scorer with 21 goals in 22 games.

Pritchett went straight into the starting line-up at Bridgwater on Saturday and played his part in the battling 3-1 win which left the Centurions on top of the table as the Old Year ended.

However, Hughes’ attempt to lure his former captain Jamie Reid back to the club was thwarted when the combative midfielder decided to stay with Ciren’s title rivals Mangotsfield.

“An awful lot of work has got us to the top of the table and there is a lot on the line, so I want us to see it through to the finish,” said Hughes, explaining his reasons for wanting to strengthen his squad.

“Other managers have been telling me what a revelation Reidy has been this year and I wanted him back.

“Pritch came straight in at Bridgwater and gave us the steel that was required at the back, but, after Reidy’s decision, we will have to turn our attentions to finding a midfielder in a similar mould.”

Hughes revealed that two members of his squad are the subject of approaches from rival clubs. “Paulton Rovers have put in ‘seven days’ for Lee Smith and Shortwood have also come in for left back Ben Prictor.”

Whatever the outcome of the New Year’s Day clash with Shortwood - pitch inspection 11am - the manager feels Saturday’s mouth-watering home game with Tiverton could be their toughest in the coming weeks.

“They are the form side,” said Hughes. “We probably met them at the right time on the opening day (Ciren won 2-1 in Devon) but managers who have played them recently tell me they are the best side in the league right now.”

Meanwhile, last season's top scorer Sam Collier, who had dual registered with Wootton Bassett Town while he tried to regain his touch in front of goal, has moved to Ciren's Southern League rivals Thatcham Town.


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