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Evo Stik Southern League 2017/18

West Division

 

Larkhall Athletic   3 – 3  Cirencester Town

 

Click   photo to view a slideshow of photos from the match

Courtesy of Steve Rolfe Photography 

 

Cirencester made the comparatively short journey to Bath to face Larkhall Athletic – a side that has already defeated them twice at The Corinium Stadium by a 2-1 score-line in the League and League Cup – expecting a tough game and it certainly was that but they managed to score two late goals when their hosts were reduced to ten men to secure a point.

Recent results have seen Cirencester make ground in terms of points ‘on the board’ but the teams around them have ‘games in hand’ and Larkhall are currently in 14th place in the League table with 31 points from 26 games whilst Cirencester are in 11th place with 46 points from 31 games so this was an important game for both teams. Current form, based on the ‘6-match form guide’ table, places Cirencester 1st and Larkhall 20th but with home advantage this would count for nothing when the action kicked-off.  

The Cirencester starting eleven had a number of enforced changes from the settled side of recent matches, especially in the back line, as Alex Albert is recovering from his recent operation, Ellis Dunton has left for Australia and Louis Spalding has been temporarily recalled by Swindon Town. To accommodate this Mason Lewis came off the bench to occupy a centre back position with the dependable Adam Connolly alongside him. The versatile Aidan Bennett was once again in the Left Back position.  

 

‘The Centurions’ began positively and took the game to their hosts with Ben Whitehead, Henry Spalding and Alan Griffin firing wide of the target in the first 5 minutes with Larkhall’s Alex Lambert responding in similar fashion.

During the early stages Tommy Ouldridge was prominent for Cirencester in midfield – taking a pot at goal and winning a challenge on half way before sending a superb pass down the left channel for Whitehead to collect and take forward. When the striker neared the home penalty area he struck a fierce left footed shot that ‘keeper Liam Armstrong managed to parry.

Larkhall responded with a counter attack down their left flank that reached Joe Tumelty who brought a low save from ‘keeper Thom Jonkerman, moving to his left.

By the 15 minute mark the game was becoming ‘end-to-end’ but the home side were beginning to see more of the ball with Lambert and Aysa Corrick often involved as they approached the Cirencester area but it was Cirencester who opened the scoring a little later from the penalty spot.

Aidan Bennett and Spalding combined on the left flank enabling the latter to play a ball into the box as Ouldridge darted towards the penalty spot where he was adjudged to have been tripped by a defensive challenge as he collected the ball– a Penalty Kick being awarded.

BEN WHITEHEAD stepped forward for his first penalty kick of the season and drove the ball inside the right post. 0-1.

Two minutes later Larkhall were level as Corrick played a ball down the centre for Greg Peel to chase and when the Cirencester defender slipped as he turned to give chase the forward moved to the edge of the penalty area and struck a fierce shot at the target. Jonkerman managed to parry his effort but it rebounded into the path of a supporting JOE TUMELTY who made no mistake from the edge of the 6 yard box as he drove it into the net. 1-1.

Encouraged by their success the powerful home side began to assert themselves on the game and Adam Connolly was called upon to make a terrific covering challenge on Corrick as he burst forward to collect a pass from George King.

Just after the half hour mark MATT BRITTON fired narrowly wide of the right post in what turned out to be practice for his effort a few minutes later when he collected a clearance ten yards inside the Cirencester half, right channel, and was allowed the time and space to move forward before striking a powerful, low, shot inside the left post. 2-1.  

In the closing stages of the half Cirencester pressed down the left flank and won a corner kick that reached Mason Lewis at the back post, just outside the 6 yard box, and his downward header towards the right post was cleared off the line.

Half Time:    2-1

Encouraged by their strong finish to the first half the home side returned in positive mood after the interval and immediately attacked down their right flank to win a free kick near the corner of the penalty area. Mike Baker took the kick and sent it towards the top right corner where Jonkerman pushed it behind for a corner kick that was headed clear by Mike Pook but promptly returned by King to clip the top of the bar.  

Larkhall worked the ball down their right flank again with Baker, Tumelty and Lambert involved and when the ball was lost quickly recovered it to attack on the left as Tumelty sent a low cross past the far post.  

A couple of minutes later Jonkerman was called upon to make a save at the feet of Peel as he collected a free kick into the Cirencester box.

The visitors worked the ball down their right flank through Tommy Anderson, who was having a real battle with Dan Restorick, Griffin, back to Anderson and Will Christopher who crossed the ball to the far post. The ball bobbed about and Spalding hooked it back into the mix where Whitehead’s reaction effort landed in the arms of Armstrong.

Just before the hour mark Corrick fired wide of the left post after good work from Peel and Lambert.

Back came Cirencester as Lewis launched a long ball down the centre but as Whitehead looked to collect near the penalty spot it bounced higher than expected enabling a defender to clear.

A minute later Whitehead was back again as he carried the ball into the left channel of the box but Armstrong dashed forward to dive at his feet and smother the ball.

The home side increased their lead mid-way through the half with a goal of simplicity as Tumelty sent a corner kick from the left towards the penalty spot for MATT BRITTON to dart forward and loop a header over the defenders and inside the far right post.  3-1.

During the next fifteen minutes Cirencester pressed as Whitehead saw his shot deflected wide for a corner kick that Lewis headed back into the mix, Spalding struck the top of the bar with a curling free kick from the right and Bennett intercepted inside his half to charge forward, exchange passes with Spalding, work his way along the front edge of the home area before slipping the ball to Griffin who had his shot blocked. Ouldridge latched onto the rebound but his shot was also blocked.

As the game entered the final five minutes Cirencester were handed a lifeline as the home Captain was awarded his second Yellow Card and dismissed after he voiced his concern at a decision the Referee had made rather strongly.

Cirencester took full advantage as they changed formation, pushing Bennett forward, and with a minute of the scheduled 90 remaining the ball was worked from left to right and laid back to WILL CHRISTOPHER who struck a 25 yard shot that swerved very late to deceive the ‘keeper and enter the net inside the right post.  3-2.

A minute later Lewis sent another long ball to the front edge of the home box, left channel, that encouraged Armstrong to leave his line to punt it clear as Bennett was closing in. The ‘keeper’s kick was partially blocked by Bennett and the ball landed at the feet of ALAN GRIFFIN some 35 yards out, right channel, and without hesitating he drove it back into the empty net. 3-3.

Cirencester immediately reverted to their original formation to secure a valuable point.  

 

Full Time:  3-3

 

This was a competitive match with Cirencester starting well but losing ground to their powerful opponents.

Once the home side were reduced to 10 men Cirencester showed the determination to take full advantage and certainly did.  

 

Attendance:     134                                           Referee:          Mike Halford

 

Larkhall Athletic:

 1.  Liam Armstrong
 2.  John Elliott
 3.  Dan Restorick
 4.  George King
 5.  Mike Baker     (C)
 6.  Josh Jones
 7.  Alex Lambert
 8.  Matt Britton                                               38, 67
 9.  Greg Peel   
10.  Joe Tumelty                                               21
11.  Aysa Corrick

12.  Geraint Bater        
14.  Neil Arndale                                  (Matt Britton-79mins)
15.  Shaun Semmens  (GK)

Cirencester Town:

 1.   Thom Jonkerman
 2.   Will Christopher                                        89
 3.   Aidan Bennett                              
 4.   Michael Pook
 5.   Mason Lewis
 6.   Tommy Ouldridge 
 7.   Henry Spalding
 8.   Adam Connolly
 9.   Alan Griffin     (C)                                       90    
10.   Ben Whitehead                                        19p
11.   Tommy Anderson  

12.   Max Lloyd
14.   James Mortimer-Jones
17.   Matt Wieczorek (GK)       

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