Evo-Stik Southern Div 1 South & West.
Cirencester Town 1 Bridgwater 6.
BRIDGWATER fans were singing Jingle Bells, while the Cirencester faithful were left wishing they had spent the afternoon Christmas shopping after this comprehensive defeat.
Cirencester’s Dave Evans started between the sticks for the first time since his switch from Slimbridge and had a debut to forget, shipping six goals.
In fact, the scoreline could have been even worse as Evans made a couple of decent saves, including from a penalty in the second half.
But while Bridgy found scoring goals at the Corinium as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, a sorry Town display saw them register not one meaningful shot on target until Ben Wells hit a consolation winner in added time.
Indeed, Ciren created more chances in the four minutes of stoppage time than they had in the previous 90.
From the moment Bridgwater got their noses in front in the 18th minute, their confidence grew, as befits a hot team which had won their last five league encounters. Bridgwater’s strike force were far too direct and clinical for Ciren, while at the other end their canny defence outmuscled the lightweight opposition with ease.
And yet the hosts had started brightly. While a storm of biblical proportions rained down, it was Ciren who carved out the early chances – a scuffed shot and then a misplaced diving header from Scott Griffin before Sam Packer hesitated just long enough for the impressive Bradley Middleton to make the first of many vital tackles.
Debutant Evans had hardly been involved when just inside 20 minutes he got enough of a touch on Ross Macnab to bring the striker down in the box as a through ball got held up on the drenched pitch and turned an easy take into a 50-50 challenge which the keeper lost.
Evans has a reputation as a penalty stopper but Craig Veal’s spot kick beat him comfortably high to the right.
In the 25th minute, the tricky Jon Vance danced past a half-hearted challenge on the edge of the box before freeing Macnab and the striker showed Ciren how to finish, giving Evans no chance from 12 yards.
Ciren had been at least a match for their visitors in the first half-hour but apart from a curling Chris Thompson effort just wide in the 40th minute, they were no longer at the races, having gone two down.
And two goals either side of half-time killed off any thought of a fightback.
Ciren’s midfielders were slow to track back after the home side lost possession and Macnab again punished the exposed Ciren defence with another immaculate finish from inside the box.
Just after the break, Ciren gift-wrapped a fourth for Bridgwater when, high under his own bar, Evans spilled what looked like a routine take from a Vance shot and the linesman judged the ball to have crossed the line.
It could have been five in the 54th minute when Veal attempted to beat Evans with an almost identical penalty to his first half effort, after Ellis Dunton was judged to have felled the charging Joe McClennan. This time Evans saved well, diving to his left.
Misery piled upon catastrophe when a corner in the 72nd minute was played deep to Zayne Simpson, who had made a late run towards the edge of the box, and his fierce shot flew past Evans to make it 5-0.
Three minutes later, it was 6-0 as Cirencester again failed to track Vance at the far post and he nudged home a hopeful diagonal ball over the top of the defence.
Ben Wells will have enjoyed the sweetly-struck volley which gave Ciren a goal with arguably their first shot on target as the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark.
Despite some new blood in defence, Cirencester have now conceded 12 goals in their last three matches.
Although it was a day when everything turned to gold for Bridgy, Ciren’s abject display leaves boss Brian Hughes with much to ponder over the Christmas period. Cirencester Town: Evans, Hawkins (Shepherd, 70), Dunton, Mortimer-Jones, Beeden, Allaway, Wells, Thompson, Packer, Griffin, Bennett (Washbourne, 76). Unused sub: Reid MoM: Bradley Middleton (Bridgwater).