HALF an hour into their final league game, and requiring just a draw to win the title, the Cirencester Town Development team’s season was going pear-shaped, writes Danny Hall.

Uhlsport Hellenic Div Two West

Brimscombe & Thrupp Res 2

Cirencester Town Dev 2

Already 2-0 down, they then lost defender George Peare to a straight red card.

But this development side has developed a backbone.

Their manager Clive Messenger said: “Last year the heads would have dropped and we would have been beaten four of five.

“Then we played lovely football but finished third in the league. We still play lovely football but have learned to play proper men’s football and do the ugly stuff when necessary.

“We had beaten Brimscombe comfortably twice already this season and in the first 10 minutes I thought we would carry on where we left off on Saturday (putting six past Beversbrook).

“But they had a game plan to upset the party – they started to rough us up a bit and it worked.”

However, a half-time team huddle re-focused the youngsters’ minds and from then on the 10 of Ciren controlled the game.

Around the hour mark a good ball from Ollie Pitt was helped on by Jack Smith to set the raw, unorthodox but very effective Shane Bumphrey free. After rounding three bamboozled defenders and chipping the goalkeeper, Bumphrey had put Ciren back in the game.

“Then it became an onslaught,” said ‘Messy’. “When a Jacob Davidge cross was handled in the box, Shane stepped up to take the penalty having missed one before scoring a hat-trick on Saturday.

“This time four keepers would not have kept it out. It was right in the top corner and he could not have hit it harder.

“Knowing that a draw was enough to win the title we sat back a bit but Brimscombe were not a threat and our lads did their job.

“It is fitting that they came back from the brink in the final game because that epitomises the desire and work rate they have shown all season.”

Chairman Steve Abbley, who along with first team manager Brian Hughes was very keen on fostering the Development system rather than just having a reserve team, now has some decisions to make about the way forward.

With Wootton Bassett FC continuing as tenants at the Corinium Stadium next season, the Ciren Town development side will again not have access to play in the main pitch.

Improvements in facilities, like dug-outs and hard standing would be required on the back pitch if they are to accept their promotion to Division One.

“Hopefully, the first team can clinch their own promotion next Saturday,” said Messy. “But if they do the development team needs to rise, too. If they continued in Hellenic Two West there would be too big a gap between them and the first team.

“At most clubs the reserve teams are separate entities with very little transition. The Development Team is much more integrated with the Ciren first XI.

“My lads got back to the clubhouse on Saturday and celebrated together with the first team. And they will be going down to Yate to support them in the final match.

“I’m pretty sure that Shane, who has scored five goals in two games, will be in Brian’s last-game squad and maybe one or two other lads as well.”