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Evo- Stik League Southern Premier Division

Hungerford Town 1 - 1 Cirencester Town

Match Report by Dave Pyzer

The destination for the latest Premier Division fixture for the Centurions was in-form, comparative near neighbours Hungerford Town.

The ‘6-Match Form Guide’ reveals that Hungerford are 4th in the current table with 13 points from the 18 available whilst Cirencester are 2nd with 16 points. Hungerford are three points behind the Centurions in the league and are unbeaten at home so a tough encounter was anticipated with everything to play for, especially for Lee Smith, Josh Parsons and Ian Herring who are all playing against their former Clubs.

Victory for Cirencester could take them to the top of the Division with their rivals not playing in the league – Poole and Weymouth are in the FA Trophy and Corby have no game.

There were a couple of changes to the starting line-up with Leigh Henry replacing the suspended Gethin Jones in the heart of the defence and Josh Parsons starting in place of Nat Jarvis who took a seat on the bench.

Cirencester kicked off playing down the slope towards the Clubhouse in bright sunshine on a pitch that was ‘tacky’ due to the sun melting the heavy frost on the top surface and it was the home side that adapted to the conditions the quickest as for the first five minutes or so they launched a number of attacks.

The first attempt on goal came from James Pilling who fired high and wide of the target from the left front edge of the penalty area following a throw-in on the right flank that was worked across the pitch to him. Pilling was involved again a couple of minutes later as he released James Clark down the right channel of the area but the resultant cross was cleared by a covering James Mortimer-Jones.

Ten minutes into the game Cirencester were beginning to get to grips with the pitch and following an attack down their left flank the home ’keeper Paul Strudley collided with his co-defender, Gary Horgan, whilst clearing the resultant cross - requiring the game to be delayed for a couple of minutes whilst they both received treatment from the Physios Elise Gilbert (Hungerford) and Lisa Vicat (Cirencester).

Cirencester nearly opened the scoring on the quarter hour mark as a corner from the left was headed on at the near post to Ellis Dunton at the back post, just outside the front edge of the 6 yard box, and his header looked destined for the back of the net but was blocked on the line and cleared to Josh Parsons on the front edge of the penalty area. Parsons collected the ball, jinked, turned and shot but again the effort was blocked and cleared.

Dunton was in the action again ten minutes later when he was on the end of an Ed Williams free kick from the right flank as he made a darting run from left to right to send a powerful header, from the right of the penalty spot, just over the bar. 

The game was not a classic as both teams struggled to keep possession and it was punctuated with free kicks.

Just before the half hour mark a Matt Collins free kick from the right corner required a determined header from Mark Pritchett to clear the danger.

Shortly afterwards Cirencester mounted a move on the left when Aidan Bennett, on half way, sent the ball down the line to Brad Hooper and on to Williams who turned, cut inside and drove along the front edge of the penalty area. A gap opened up but he chose to release the ball to Parsons further along the area instead of shooting. Parsons was not expecting the pass, moving to his left, and he was wrong footed enabling the home side to clear.

The visitors were looking dangerous at this point and were rewarded with a corner kick on the left that was headed away from goal but Ian Herring, who was moving from right to left of the area - level with the penalty spot, latched on to it and headed back towards goal. The ball struck the bar and was cleared.

With five minutes of normal time remaining Parsons took a free kick from the right channel, 30 yards out, and his fierce drive was deflected high into the air – coming down on the left front edge of the area where Dunton controlled it and volleyed in one move towards goal. His strike struck an incoming challenger and there was an appeal for a penalty that went unheeded (would have been harsh if the decision had been given). Dunton chased after the deflected ball but his challenge was penalised and the resultant free kick cleared the danger.

The final action of the half was a turn and shot from Williams on the front right edge of the penalty area that went wide of the left post.      


Half Time:   0 - 0


The second half started at the same frenetic pace as the first and five minutes in Glyn Garner struck a free kick from inside his half towards the left side of the penalty area for Dunton to head on to Parsons near the penalty spot. Parsons played it back to Bennett who shot from the left side of the area for Strudley to catch at full stretch.

This was to prove to be a rehearsal as within three minutes Garner took a free kick, from just inside his half - right of centre, and once again struck it towards the left side of the penalty area.  As before, Dunton made a charging run to get on the end of it - sending his header across the penalty area. MARK PRITCHETT collected, to the left of the penalty spot, turned to his right and calmly placed a right footed shot inside the far right post.  0 – 1.

Five minutes later the home side produced a move that excited the home support as Horgan headed wide of the left post, from the left side of the 6 yard box – but his effort would not have counted anyway as he was adjudged to be offside.

This was quickly followed by a determined run from Lee Smith down the left flank to the byeline but his cross was cut off by a well positioned Leigh Henry.

Cirencester responded as Henry released Hooper down the left channel. Hooper drove forward and as he approached the area he slipped the ball to Bennett who laid it back to him – enabling Hooper to shoot from the front edge of the area. Strudley caught the shot above his head.

A few minutes later Bennett played a well weighted ball into the right corner for Parsons to collect. Parsons then played it inside to the supporting Williams who produced another of his mazy runs across the front edge of the area, right to left, before shooting but his attempt was deflected for a corner kick.

Midway through the half there was a moment when everyone held their breath as Strudley, in his right corner of the pitch, miss-kicked an attempted clearance to Bennett down the line, who immediately struck it towards the empty goal with Strudley out of position. The ball just cleared the bar.  

Hungerford were hitting the visitors on the break and one down the right enabled Alan O’Brien to cross to the back post where a returning Pritchett (he had just been up the other end for a corner kick) managed to produce a superb recovery tackle on the edge of his area to stop it.

On the half hour mark of the half Herring sent a terrific 40 yard pass from the left flank to Parsons on the right side of the penalty area. Parsons laid the ball off to Williams but the resultant shot was deflected for a corner.

Herring was involved again a couple of minutes later, this time defensively, as he headed a Charles Mpi cross from the right corner behind for a corner.

 

The game was certainly end-to-end now as Hungerford searched for an equaliser and as a result both sides were counter-attacking at pace.

Williams driving down the centre of the pitch before shooting over from 30 yards, followed by a clever ball inside right back, James Rusby, by Hooper with the outside of his right foot for Bennett to collect but his shot was blocked.

There was then the unusual sight of a shot at goal from Pilling, on the front edge of the penalty area, striking the prone Henry on the backside as he was getting up on the front edge of the 6 yard box following a previous block.   

Hungerford’s endeavours were finally rewarded with four minutes of normal time remaining as they won the ball on the right side of midfield, just inside the Cirencester half, and sent a cross-field pass towards LEE SMITH on the left flank. It looked as if the ball would be cut out by Matt Liddiard en-route to Smith but the defender lost his footing on the slippery pitch and the ball had free passage. Smith was able to collect the ball in plenty of space and drove down the left channel of the area towards goal. When he neared the left side of the 6 yard box, 10 yards out, he struck a fierce right footed shot inside the near post as Garner attempted to cover it.  1 – 1.

In the closing minutes of the game Cirencester had several attempts at goal blocked as they tried to regain the lead but they were unable to break through the resolute home defence who held on to preserve their undefeated home record.


Final Score: 1 - 1


As expected a tough game with plenty of endeavour and commitment from both sides but inevitably due to the ‘sticky’ pitch conditions not a free flowing spectacle.

Cirencester managed to play their neat passing game in patches and had plenty of shots blocked by the home defence and will undoubtedly be disappointed to concede the equaliser so near to the final whistle under such unfortunate circumstances. 

It was good to see Leigh Henry survive his first game since the end of October following injury.

Once again a good all round team performance.


Attendance: 158                                

Referee:      Michael Webb


HUNGERFORD TOWN:

1.   Paul Strudley
2.   James Rusby
3.   Gary Horgan
4.   Jon Boardman  (C)
5.   Matt Day
6.   James Pilling
7.   Dean Stow
8.   Matt Collins
9.   James Clark
10.  Mark Draycott
11.  Lee Smith

12.  Harry Goodger
14.  Alan O’Brien    (Dean Stow-63mins)
15.  Charlie Mpi               (Matt Collins-63mins)        
16.  Jon Munday     (Jon Boardman-30mins)
17.  Scott Rees

 

CIRENCESTER TOWN:

1.   Glyn Garner
2.   Ian Herring
3.   Ellis Dunton     
4.   Mark Pritchett
5.   Matt Liddiard
6.   Leigh Henry     (C)
7.   Brad Hooper            
8.   James Mortimer-Jones
9.   Josh Parsons            
10.  Aidan Bennett
11.  Ed Williams

12.  Nat Jarvis     
14.  Ben Prictor
15.  Kyle Pitts

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