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Pre-Season Friendly

Larkhall Athletic   1 – 2   Cirencester Town

Match Report by Dave Pyzer


Cirencester travelled to the outskirts of Bath to play Larkhall Athletic of the Southern League South & West Division 1 in their 6th pre-season friendly match.

Larkhall were promoted as Champions of the Western League at the end of the 2013/14 Season and last season they finished 11th in the Southern League S & W Division table having finished 5th in the previous season. Within their ranks are several players who have been playing at this level for a number of years.

The Cirencester squad was again depleted due to holidays (James Mortimer-Jones, Chris Taylor) and illness (Kyle Lapham) although James Coates returned to take a place alongside Matt Liddiard at Centre Back. Adam Connolly is still on the injured list.

Cirencester kicked off proceedings on a warm, humid day on a firm, bumpy pitch but were almost immediately put under pressure from a lively home side as within 2 minutes Dean Griffiths fired a cross-cum-shot that passed through the front edge of the 6 yard box and out without contact.

Three minutes later Ben Brooks collected a pass in the left channel and moved forward to the front edge of the Cirencester penalty area and fired a left footed shot that Harvey Rivers had to tip over the bar for a corner kick. The kick, from the left, was too long and the threat passed.

Back came Larkhall to win a free kick in the left channel - 25 yards out.  Josh Egan stepped up and sent a right footed curler towards the far post and once again Rivers tipped it over the bar. This time the corner kick, from the right, was played short to Jay Adams but his cross was blocked and cleared.

Cirencester were beginning to get into the game and won a free kick that Lee Smith drove from the right to the far post but Elliott Green was just unable to reach it with his head.

Shortly afterwards Scott Bevan picked up a clearance on the Cirencester left flank and drove forward before sending a long ball to the far post where AIDAN BENNETT had made a run and he produce a powerful header that flew inside the post to open the scoring.  0-1.

At the mid-point of the half Charlie Griffin played the ball to Ross Langworthy and he sent it out to Bevan on the flank. Bevan sent another of his deep crosses towards the back post where Smith headed over the bar.

Due to the conditions a ‘drinks break’ took place after 25 minutes.

Just after the re-start Ollie Knight crossed from the left but it was headed out by the home defence and fell to Langworthy who controlled it on his chest before striking a left footed volley wide of the right post.

On the half hour Matt Liddiard sent a 50 yard pass from the left back position to Bennett on the right flank. Bennett played it inside to Smith and charged down the right flank to collect the return pass from Smith. Once in the corner Bennett sent a low cross towards the home penalty spot but it was cut out before it reached its intended target.

Cirencester nearly doubled their score when Rivers punted the ball down the pitch to Griffin who headed it on. A covering defender attempted to volley it clear but only succeeded in sending the ball high into the air in the direction of the Larkhall goal. It clipped the top of the Larkhall cross-bar when it came down and behind for a corner kick on the left. Smith sent the kick to the back post where Langworthy headed wide of the right post.

As the half entered the final five minutes Cirencester created a couple of openings – the first started by Liddiard as the ball was worked down the left and inside to Smith. He in turn played a pass down the centre and in behind the home defence for Green but it was just too firm.

The second was after Smith took a free kick in the left corner but Griffin headed wide of the right post.

On the stroke of half time Jake Gardiner crossed from the right corner to the front edge of the 6 yard box where Brooks produced a glancing header that was wide of the left post.

Half Time:  0-1

Larkhall made three changes to their line-up during the interval

As with the first half Larkhall started quickly and took the game to their visitors but it was Cirencester who had the first pot at goal following some neat build-up play involving Griffin and Green that enabled Knight to shoot – but his effort was wide of the left post.

Cirencester then produced a move involving several players as the ball was worked from the left channel to the right and back to the left flank.

On the hour mark Jon Else sent a superb 40 yard pass from the right flank over and behind the home defence for Smith to collect in the left corner. Smith laid it back to a supporting Green and he slipped it inside to Langworthy but it was lost in the incoming challenge.

Cirencester then produced a series of passes as they worked the ball down their right flank but the first cross from Bennett was cleared as was the second from Else.  

A couple of minutes later Langworthy showed some quick feet as he avoided an incoming challenge before shipping the ball to Bennett on the right flank but the resultant cross was too long for any goalmouth action.

The Bevan to Bennett combination was in evidence again as Bennett’s ‘cushioned’ header set up Langworthy but he did not make a clean contact on the ball at the right corner edge of the 6 yard box and the opportunity passed.

At the mid-pint of the half Tom Knighton burst forward for Larkhall, down the left channel, but Rivers was alert to the threat and came out to block the shot at the feet of the home player.

Larkhall thought they had equalised when a cross from Gardiner, in the right corner, reached the centre of the goalmouth where Rivers leapt to catch but he was nudged and dropped the ball. Griffiths was on hand to back-heel it into the net but the referee awarded a free kick to Cirencester.

A couple of minutes after the ‘drinks break’ Rivers was in action again as he pulled off a double block at the feet of Griffiths and Knighton. He then pulled off a fine low save from Jamie Lyons who had worked himself into space in the left channel of the Cirencester penalty area.

As the game entered the final fifteen minutes Danny Rosser crossed from the right to Ricky Hulbert who had darted across the front edge of the 6 yard box to get his head to the ball but Rivers caught his effort in the centre of the goal.

With five minutes remaining Cirencester doubled their lead after Larkhall had been pressing for an equaliser. Jon Else collected the ball on the edge of his penalty area and made a strong run down the right before moving it on to Kalum Youngsam further down the line. As he approached the corner he squared it across the box for CHARLIE GRIFFIN, who looked to have been offside, to calmly tuck inside the right post from near the penalty spot. 0-2.

Larkhall scored with virtually the last kick of the game when the ball was crossed into the Cirencester penalty area from the home sides right flank and whilst it was initially cleared it was collected by JAMIE LYONS, left channel of the area, and he drove it goal-wards. En-route it struck a defender and was deflected past a helpless Rivers for a consolation goal. 1-2.

Full Time:   1-2

A useful exercise, from a fitness point of view, but a little disjointed as a result of the number of enforced positional changes due to the absences outlined earlier.

Larkhall are a well organised and experienced side and certainly were ‘up’ for the game.

Scott Bevan looks to be settling into the side and has formed an understanding with Aidan Bennett with his long cross-field passes – producing two goals in the last two games.


Cirencester Town:

1.   Harvey Rivers
2.   Jon Else                            
3.   Scott Bevan
4.   Ross Langworthy                            
5.   Matt Liddiard   (C)            
6.   James Coates                                
7.   Aidan Bennett                              20                               
8.   Ollie Knight
9.   Charlie Griffin                               85                   
10.  Lee Smith                         
11.  Elliott Green                                             

12.  Kalum Youngsam                (Lee Smith-63min)
14.  Sam Farr                            (Elliott Green-72 min)
15.  Lee Worgan                        (James Coates-72min)


Larkhall Athletic:

1.   Lewis Porter
2.   Josh Egan                          
3.   Neil Arndale
4.   Josh Ford                          
5.   Ollie Price             
6.   Jay Adams                        
7.   Ricky Hulbert                                
8.   Joe Raynes
21.  Dean Griffiths                 
10.  Ben Brooks                                    
11.   Jamie Lyons                                   89


12.  Tom Knighton                     (Ben Brooks-46min)
14.  Kyle Tooze                         (Joe Raynes-46min)
15.  Jake Gardiner                     (Josh Egan-19mins)
16.  Danny Rosser                     (Dan Restorick-56min)
17.  Dan Restorick                     (Josh Ford-52min & Jay Adams-75mins)
18.  Jack Allward                       (Neil Arndale-46min)


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