Evo-Stik Southern Premier
Cirencester Town 2
St Neots Town 1
CIRENCESTER TOWN collected their first home win since November to breathe some life into their survival battle with a 2-1 victory over St Neots Town.
And with the bottom six clubs all losing, Cirencester have moved up to 21st with six games remaining, four points behind Kings Langley who they meet in the last game of the season.
Billed as a relegation six-pointer against St Neots, a side just outside the drop zone, Town dominated and ‘keeper Glyn Garner enjoyed a relatively comfortable afternoon.
But they again made it difficult for themselves, coming from behind and then failing to truly kill the game off at 2-1.
Nonetheless, this was as complete a Cirencester Town display for weeks. Ben Brown, back from injury, brought strength and aerial power to an unaccustomed right back role while Mat Liddiard was sacrificed in midfield to play alongside Matt Coupe at centre back.
However, it was two childhood friends who were the catalyst of this success. Ellis Dunton, only recently returned from Australia and slightly off the pace in his earlier games, was back to his magnificent best, uncompromisingly winning challenge after challenge and heading a superb goal into the bargain.
Meanwhile, Aidan Bennett was given another spin in the second striker role and didn’t he take it.
The skilful and strong Bennett worked tremendously hard for 90 minutes, dovetailed with Griffin well and was only a goal away from the complete package – and he did come close on at least three occasions.
With the ball sticking to the front men, wide players Dan Demkiv and Kerry Morgan, both bright, lively and committed, saw much more of the ball and, consequently, Cirencester looked a potent attacking unit. They created just shy of 20 attempts on goal.
Jevani Brown has hit two hat-tricks for The Saints in recent weeks and it was he who brought the first quarter of the game to a close when breaking the deadlock. Given a hint of space on the edge of the box, he rifled a superb first-time finish past Glyn Garner.
It was as if Ciren needed the wake-up call to start playing football.
Within four minutes they were level. The dangerous Demkiv had a shot charged down from the right and rather than blasting another when it rebounded to him he intelligently picked out Griffin instead and the big striker did the rest with a volleyed finish.
The always industrious James Mortimer-Jones must have thought he had claimed his second goal of the season when he unleashed a 25-yarder that had ‘worldie’ stamped all over it until Alex Archer acrobatically tipped it over the bar on the half-hour.
The rampant Ciren were in front in the 36th minute when Kerry Morgan showed the benefit of a driven rather than floated corner and Dunton met it with pace to produce an unstoppable header.
Town twice went close to making the points safe in the opening two minutes of second half, with both Demkiv and Bennett having goal-bound chances deflected wide.
While lacking the intensity of their efforts in the first half, Ciren continued to be the only side threatening. Morgan, seeing Archer off his line, hit an audacious 40-yarder just a foot over in the 76th minute, and Dunton was kicking himself for not doing better with a free header two minutes later.
With Ciren not killing the game off, there was always the chance that St Neots would get an undeserved equaliser and sure enough deep in stoppage time Brown wriggled free in the box and only a superb last-ditch challenge from captain Liddiard prevented a cruel finale.
Town will face an altogether tougher test against Redditch at home next weekend, but the belief gained from this victory should work wonders.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Brown, Dunton, Mortimer-Jones, Coupe, Liddiard (capt), Demkiv (Spalding, 69), Connolly, Griffin, Bennett, Morgan (Diaz-Benitez, 82).
Unused subs: C Griffin, Thompson, Elliott.