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Evo-Stik Southern League 2018/19

Division 1 South

 

Melksham Town  0 – 1  Cirencester Town

Click   photo to view a slideshow of photos from the match

Courtesy of Steve Rolfe Photography

 

With the knowledge that a victory would guarantee home advantage in the ‘play-offs’ and may also promote them to 2nd place in the league table Cirencester made the comparatively short journey to league newcomers Melksham Town and a late penalty kick provided the result they required.

 

‘The Centurions’ 6-1 victory over Mangotsfield United in their last home match of the season had promoted them to 1st place in the ‘6-Match Form Guide‘ table whilst their opponents 3-2 defeat to Yate Town had dropped them down to 17th place in this table. The positions of the teams in the league table prior to the match were Cirencester 3rd and Melksham 11th.

 

There were a couple of enforced changes to the Cirencester starting eleven of the last four matches as Babz Jarra (injury) and Aidan Bennett (holiday) were unavailable. To cover Babz absence Manager Charlie Griffin brought in Louis Spalding at left back with Ellis Dunton moving inside to centre back and Jordan Morris took the place of Aidan.  

 

From the outset the match was played in the very strong wind of ‘Storm Hannah’ and this made control and weight of pass very difficult for both sides but despite this the game started at a lively pace with incidents at both ends within the first 5 minutes.

A misplaced pass enabled Jack Baker to make ground for the home side down their right flank to win a corner kick that Cirencester struggled to clear but when they did Owen Windsor countered to the right corner.

Shortly afterwards Jordan Morris, Louis Spalding and Mike Pook combined on the left flank to create space for Pook to cross towards the penalty spot where Alan Griffin headed wide of the left post.

The pacey Jack Baker made another burst down the right flank and it took a superb well-timed tackle from Adam Connolly to end his progress when he reached the edge of the Cirencester penalty area.

By the mid-point of the half there had been a couple of scrambles in the penalty areas at both ends and a couple of duels between Windsor and ‘keeper Sam Thomson – a 1v1 and a curling shot.

As the 30 minute mark neared the action was at the Cirencester end of the pitch as a free kick led to Sam Ayres producing a reflex save to push a Danny King header over his crossbar. The resulting corner kick also caused some problems for the visitors with a block on the line followed by Baker heading wide of the left post.

The home side pressed as the interval loomed with Morris covering at the back post to nick the ball off the top of Warren Maidment’s head following a long throw from King on the left flank. 

Throughout the half Cirencester had worked the ball down their flanks but they were finding it difficult to get their shots away leading to quick counter attacks from their hosts.

Half Time:  0-0

After the break the home side worked the ball down their right flank with a series of throw-ins but the first goal-bound effort came from Pook who saw his fierce 25 yard shot blocked to be recovered and recycled to the right leading to a corner kick but no break-through.

As the hour mark approached King latched onto an Ayres punch to shoot at goal from right of the penalty spot but this too was blocked leading to a counter attack down the Cirencester right flank but as they neared the home area the pace of Jordan Croad enabled him to cover back to win the ball.  

Cirencester responded a couple of minutes later when a long throw from Pook on the left flank bounced over the defenders to find its way to Tommy Anderson at the back post who headed towards the top right corner where Thomson recovered to make the necessary catch.

Encouraged Cirencester continued to press and during the next ten minutes created a number of openings – neat work between Griffin and Will Christopher down the right flank enabled Anderson to deliver a cross to the right channel of the area where Griffin fired wide of the right post. 

A few minutes later Spalding shot over after a move involving several players had switched play from right to left, followed by a darting run and cross from Morris on the left that resulted in a right footed volley from Griffin that passed wide of the right post from near the penalty spot. 

Just after the mid-point of the half Connolly embarked on a 40 yard run down the right channel that took him from his own half to 25 yards from goal and from there he delivered a pass into the path of Griffin who shot across goal but Thomson managed to save the effort with his legs. 

Melksham reacted to this pressure by countering down their right flank where Ellis Dunton was called upon to make three blocks in quick succession.

As the game entered the last 5 minutes Cirencester worked the ball down their right flank with the ball reaching Jack Freeman who struck a terrific volley from the right channel front edge of the home area that Thomson parried.

Cirencester pressed again down their left flank as the game was drawing to a close but Melksham defended to counter and then on the stroke of 90 minutes a long punt downfield resulted in what was seen to be a controversial decision by the home support as Referee Andrew Hobbs awarded a Penalty Kick to Cirencester and a Red Card to ‘keeper Thomson.

Owen Windsor chased after the punt and Thomson came off his line to catch but as he did so he raised his feet into the ribs of Windsor and this led to the decision.

After some delay substitute Nick Evans donned the ‘keepers shirt and replaced the unfortunate Jack Baker to face the spot kick. The coolest man on the pitch, MIKE POOK, stepped forward to score inside the left post.  0-1.

There was still time for Cirencester to mount another attack that led to Windsor chipping the ball towards goal from the left channel of the area but it was partially blocked leading to Freeman having a go but his effort was blocked near the goal-line to be cleared.

In the final minutes of the match Melksham launched a series of throws into the Cirencester box but they survived to secure victory and ultimately 2nd place in the league for a home tie in the play-offs against Cinderford Town.

Full Time:   0-1

A difficult match for Cirencester, due to the efforts of their opponents and the conditions, as they failed to reach the heights of their last match but a win is a win. 

WELL DONE BOYS – now for the ‘play-offs’.

 

Attendance:  406                                

Referee:   Andrew Hobbs          

 

 

MELKSHAM TOWN: 

1.   Sam Thomson
2.   Dan Watts
3.   Jake Hutchings
4.   Warren Maidment
5.   Sayeed Ibrahim     (C)
6.   Owen Pearce
7.   Jack Baker
8.   Will Thomson
9.   Gary Higdon
10.  Dan King
11.  Jordan Croad 

12.  Kieron Pearce                                 (Dan King-73mins)
14.  Nick Evans                                     (Jack Baker-90mins)
15.  Dan Broom

 

CIRENCESTER TOWN:

1.   Sam Ayres
2.   Will Christopher
3.   Louis Spalding
4.   Mike Pook                                                   90+3p
5.   Ellis Dunton
6.   Jack Freeman
7.   Tommy Anderson
8.   Adam Connolly
9.   Alan Griffin     (C)
10.  Owen Windsor
11.  Jordan Morris

12.  Levi Irving
14.  Declan Lehmann  (GK)                    
15.  James Mortimer-Jones                  (Jordan Morris-79mins)                                  
16.  Sam Farr
17.  Max Lloyd

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