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Evo Stik Southern League 2016/17

Premier Division


Cirencester Town   0 – 0   Hitchin Town   

Match Report by Dave Pyzer  


The new Management Team of Charlie Griffin and Paul ‘Oggie’ Hunt took over the reins of Cirencester Town in mid-week and began their tenure with a tough home match against ‘high-flying’ Hitchin Town. Prior to the match ‘The Canaries’ sat in 5th place in the Premier Division table and the ‘6-match Form Guide’ places them 3rd so not an easy baptism for the new men at the helm.

With only one training session to prepare the team the starting eleven and positions were the same as that which secured the three points at Basingstoke Town in mid-week. 

Cirencester kicked off playing towards the Arena end of the Corinium Stadium and immediately took the game to the visitors as they pressed down both flanks.

In the 6th minute Aidan Bennett carried the ball down the right flank and when his path was blocked he laid the ball back to a supporting Ollie Knight and he played it back to James Coates who sent a cross towards the penalty spot. The headed clearance fell to James Mortimer-Jones just outside the front edge of the area, left of centre, and his left footed strike was deflected wide for the first corner kick of the match. Andy Elcock drove the kick from the right to the centre front edge of the Hitchin 6 yard box where Ben Brown rose to send his header wide of the left post.

Two minutes later it was Hitchin on the attack as Kane Smith was set free down their right flank and once in the corner he crossed but James Coates had read the situation and came across from his flank to cut it out at the near post – conceding a corner kick in the process. Lucas Kirkpatrick took the kick and played it to Alasan Ann in the right channel of the Cirencester penalty area and his resulting shot was blocked by Brown for another corner kick. This one was punched clear by Harvey Rivers but fell to Matt Lench who attempted a right footed volley from the front edge of the area that passed wide of the right post.

Hitchin were beginning to get into their stride and starting to move the ball about quickly with accurate passing but Cirencester were closing them down to deny space.

Just after the quarter of an hour mark and after a series of headers from both sides the ball reached Robbie Burns, near the left front corner of the Cirencester penalty area, and he fired a low right footed shot that Rivers did well to see and push round his post. Kirkpatrick’s kick was played to the near post and back to him for a right footed curling cross that yielded another corner kick. This time it was cleared to a lurking Ann, right channel front edge of the area, and he turned and shot wide of the left post.

A few minutes later Hitchin were back again as Ann sent a pass to the left corner for an overlapping Ben Walster to collect and cross. Once again Coates intercepted to concede a corner kick that Rivers caught.

At the mid-point of the half Kane Smith collected a pass on the right flank and took it into the home penalty area for a 1 v 1 with Rivers but his resulting shot was just wide of the far left post.

Hitchin were moving the ball well at this stage and Cirencester were being severely tested and in the 25th minute the visitors thought they had opened the scoring when Matt Lench sent a curling right footed shot, from the left front corner of the Cirencester penalty area, towards the right post and Brett Donnelly darted forward to divert it inside the left post. Their joy was short-lived as the Assistant Referee had his flag raised for ‘offside’.

Cirencester responded with a break on their right flank as Elcock released Bennett down the side edge of the Hitchin penalty area. As Bennett reached the by-line he sent a low cross towards the front edge of the 6 yard box where ‘keeper Michael Johnson dived on it to prevent further progress.   

As the half entered the final ten minutes Cirencester pushed forward and made ground down the left flank as Kyle Lapham released Ross Langworthy who cut back and crossed but unfortunately too long for his team-mates to collect.

James Mortimer-Jones also released Langworthy on the left and this time his cross led to a corner kick that was defended.

Not to be outdone the right flank combination of Bennett and Knight pressed in the right corner - as Johnson, Walster and Lewis Rolfe tried to work the ball forward - and eventually gained possession enabling Knight to cross towards the far left post. Once again it was defended and a counter attack started down the visitor’s right channel but Matt Liddiard brought it to an abrupt end as he won the ball near the halfway line.

Back came Cirencester, down their left flank, as they finished the half strongly but they couldn’t find a way through a well organised Hitchin defence.

The final action of the half saw Lench cross towards the right post from the left flank and Liddiard head out for a corner kick. When the kick reached Burns he was quickly closed down by Mortimer-Jones and another corner kick conceded. This one reached Ann, in the right channel of the penalty area, and Brown made a tremendous block to deny him.

Half Time:       0 – 0

The first half had been fairly hectic but after the interval the pace was increased as the two sides searched for an opening goal.

As in the first half Cirencester started quickly as Lapham won the ball and played it inside to Liddiard, on to Langworthy (left touchline), forward to Knight (left corner) and a cross into the box that Johnson caught. 

A minute later Knight drove forward to the left corner and crossed to the back post where Bennett headed it back to a supporting Elcock (right channel front edge of the penalty area) but as he was about to pull the trigger it was taken off his toe.

Cirencester were moving the ball from the left and across the pitch to the right flank as they looked for an opening but it was Hitchin that had the next pot at goal as Burns took a snap shot from distance that yielded a corner kick that Rivers caught.

A couple of minutes later Hench tries another long range shot that cleared the home cross-bar.

Just before the hour mark Cirencester had the clearest chance of the match as Bennett played a superb ball from the left flank into the path of Langworthy as he charged down the centre of the pitch for a 1 v 1 with the ‘keeper. Langworthy took a touch, steadied himself and fired at the target but an advancing Johnson managed to block.   

In the next few minutes Langworthy was involved a couple of times as he first headed a Lapham cross from the penalty spot for Johnson to catch and then he was released down the right channel after the ball had been worked forward with some crisp passing by Knight, Mortimer-Jones and Elcock on half-way to be stopped in his tracks as he cut left by Wolfe.

Mid-way into the half Hitchin had the ball in the back of the Cirencester net again following a short corner on the right flank and a cross to the back post for Dan Webb to head home but once again the Assistant Referee had his flag raised for ‘offside’.

Back came Cirencester as Elcock took a free kick from 30 yards, left channel, that Johnson punched out and when it was fed back in a corner kick resulted. As Elcock took the kick he slipped and it was cleared to relieve the pressure.

Hitchin countered with a break down their right flank as Kane Smith raced to the corner and crossed but the ever alert Coates had come across to cut it out at the near post despite being under considerable pressure.

As the game entered the final quarter it became a little ‘tetchy’ as both teams sought to get on top and as a result Referee, Simmon Shaw, was brandishing a few Yellow Cards in an effort to keep a lid on proceedings.

With ten minutes of normal time remaining Elcock sent a free kick from the left into the box where it was headed out to Kalum Youngsam who fired over the bar.

A couple of minutes later Youngsam was on the receiving end of a rash challenge from Callum Donnelly in the centre circle that after a delay and discussion with his Assistants led to the Referee issuing the Hitchin man with a Red Card.

Both sides were ‘really going for it’ and with five minutes remaining Coates released Langworthy down the right but his cross was cut out by Johnson at the near post.

Four minutes to go and Hitchin were awarded a free kick from their right channel, 30 yards out, that Walster sent to the back post and Brown headed out. James Varney latched onto the ball and struck a right footed volley that Rivers saved low down near his right post. 

Despite being a man short Hitchin were finishing strongly and Rivers was called upon to save a glancing header near his right post and Brett Donnelly ‘flicked’ the resulting corner kick into the side netting at the same post.

The final action of this enthralling game came as a result of a hopeful punt downfield by Brett Donnelly, on half-way, that landed on the centre front edge of the home penalty area. Rivers came out to collect but Varney got there first and rounded the ‘keeper - being forced to his left. As further challenges came in he managed to get his shot away but Lapham had anticipated and managed to clear off the line to preserve the point the home side had fought so hard for.   

Final Score:     0 - 0

This was an extremely entertaining game of football with both sides playing positive football and displaying total commitment in defence.

The new Management Team of Cirencester will undoubtedly be pleased to have secured a clean sheet and a point from an ‘in-form’ Hitchin side in their first game in charge with plenty of endeavour and commitment on display.


Attendance:     98

Referee:          Simon Shaw


Cirencester Town:

1.    Harvey Rivers
2.    James Coates
3.    Kyle Lapham
4.    Matt Liddiard     (C)                                 
5.    Ben Brown                         
6.    Andrew Elcock                     
7.    Lee Smith          
8.    James Mortimer-Jones                             
9.    Aidan Bennett                                                                              
10.   Ross Langworthy  
11.   Ollie Knight                      

12.   Sam Farr              
14.   Kalum Youngsam                            (Lee Smith-76mins)                 
15.   Adam Connolly                             
16.   Charlie Griffin                             


Hitchin Town:

1.    Michael Johnson
2.    Will Wright
3.    Ben Walsher
4.    Alasan Ann
5.    Dan Webb     (C)
6.    Lewis Rolfe
7.    Kane Smith
8.    Lucas Kirkpatrick
9.    Brett Donnelly
10.   Robbie Burns
11.   Matt Lench

12.   Callum Donnelly                             (Alasan Ann-72mins)
14.   Kieran Barnes
15.   Lewis McBride                              
16.   James Varney                                (Robbie Burns-77mins)
17.   Josh Coley

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