AN excellent second-half display from Cirencester Town saw them come from behind to beat Skrill Conference South side Weston entirely on merit.
Cirencester Town 2
With just one more warm-up game to come before the season starts for real on August 9, Ciren are beginning to look the part and boss Brian Hughes will be especially pleased as Saturday’s team was missing four or five players who might be expected to start on day one.
Ciren’s goals both came from crisply-taken penalties by Brad Hooper who is already looking an improved player from last season.
A sweltering hot afternoon dictated the languid pace of the game in the first half when a rather passive Town allowed their division-higher opponents to have far too much of the ball.
Nonetheless, the makeshift Ciren back four, with Development Squad skipper Kyle Pitts not looking out of place, kept a good shape and restricted their loftier rivals to just two chances in the opening 45.
A slip by the otherwise excellent Matt Liddiard, filling in at right back, allowed Syd Camper to scamper clear and his cross shot in the 27th minute was probably heading for the net before being nudged over the line by Brad Ash.
At the time Town were down to 10 men with influential midfielder Jamie Edge off the field being attended to for a nosebleed after a clash of heads.
In the 34th minute, the dangerous Dayle Grubb shrugged off Mark Pritchett and Ben Prictor before getting off a fierce shot which Garner did well to palm behind.
Town had their moments, too. Ed Williams, who looks a superb addition to the squad, made a lovely break in the 21st minute and slipped Aidan Bennett clear but the striker’s sidefooted shot failed to really trouble Luke Purnell.
Then, virtually on half-time, left back Prictor whose game has like Hooper’s also moved up a level in the close season, hit a superb running cross only for Bennett head a difficult chance wide.
Town left their respect for Weston in the dressing room at the break, upping the tempo considerably and harrying their rivals at every opportunity.
It resulted in 45 minutes played at league intensity, with referee being forced to issue two yellows (Prictor and Seasgulls sub Joe McLennan) as challenges became a little too feisty for a friendly.
But Town did rattle Weston and put them on the back foot throughout. And when he came on in the 65th minute ex-New College Swindon and Frome FC right back Ryan Elliott slotted in well.
Hooper converted the 50th-minute penalty after being scythed down in the box and put his second penalty in the same bottom left hand corner after a hotly-disputed handball decision in the 62nd minute.
Glyn Garner did have one second-half save to make from a deflected shot but Town came close to making it 3-1 in the closing minutes.
Jacob Davidge, back from a week of training with Bristol Rovers, broke clear in a one-on-one with Purnell who saved well with his legs. The ball broke to Williams who was unlucky not to crown a fine display when his delicate lob came back off the underside of the bar.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Liddiard, Prictor, Pritchett (capt), Hooper (Elliott, 65), Pitts, Edge (Mortimer-Jones, 65), O’Brien (Wimble, 65), Davidge, Bennett, Williams. Unused subs: Bond, Anson.