Southern Premier Division
Paulton Rovers 2
Cirencester Town 1
A TERRIFIC winner from Nick McCootie early in the second half separated two of the sides who were promoted from the Southern League Div One South & West last season.
Champions Cirencester had started the end-of-season seven-match winning run which helped them clinch the title by winning at Paulton Rovers last term, but this time the Bristol side, who were promoted through the play-offs, gained revenge on Saturday.
Paulton went ahead in the 26th minute via Brandon Barnes, but two minutes later Ciren had levelled when a Ben Wells corner on the right was superbly headed home by Mark Pritchett.
The decider came four minutes into the second half when Rovers’ top scorer of last season McCootie went on a mazy run before finding the top corner of Glyn Garner’s net with a fierce shot.
Cirencester were without both right backs in their squad with club captain Shayne Anson still recovering from a pelvic injury while Gethin Jones was frustratingly denied the chance to make his Town debut because his international clearance – he played in the Welsh League last season – did not come through until immediately after the game.
Town also had limited options up front with neither Aidan Bennett nor Shane Bumphrey being available for selection and Wells played just behind the strike pairing of Nat Jarvis and Ed Williams.
“It was a typical blood and thunder opening to the season but I didn’t think either side played particularly well,” said Cirencester Town boss Brian Hughes.
“They were not any better than us but it was decided by a great goal into the top corner.
“We are looking a little lop-sided at the moment with Aidan Bennett temporarily sidelined and we are lacking a bit of width compared to last season.
“I thought Nat and Ed worked incredibly hard but they did not have the best of service."
Cirencester Town: Garner, Liddiard, Prictor, Pritchett, Reid, Henry (capt), Wells (Davidge, 75), Edge, Jarvis, Hooper, Williams. Unused sub: Roberts.