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Evo-Stik Southern League 2018/19

Division 1 South – ‘Play-Off’ Semi Final

 

Cirencester Town  1 – 2  Cinderford Town

Click   photo to view a slideshow of photos from the match

Courtesy of Steve Rolfe Photography

Match Report by Dave Pyzer

Cirencester’s late penalty win at Melksham Town in their last league match of the season had secured 2nd place in the table and home advantage against 5th placed Cinderford Town in this ‘play-off’ semi final and as two of the top ‘form’ teams in the Division – Cirencester 1st, Cinderford 3rd – a competitive match was anticipated and so it proved with ‘The Foresters’ taking the spoils to progress to the final against Yate Town.

 

The match was played in front of a large crowd on a cool evening with many former players of the teams attending to witness and/or support their former Clubs and this all added to the atmosphere of the occasion with a ‘Final’ at stake – although information advised that Cinderford would not be promoted even if they won the Final due to their points per game ratio not being high enough when compared to other teams involved in other ‘play-off’ matches as a result of the re-organisation of the national league structure.

 

 

Despite this Cinderford, with nothing to lose, showed their intent immediately from their kick-off as Andy Lewis sent a raking pass into the home penalty area where Richard Greaves brought an early block from ‘keeper Sam Ayres to win a corner kick.

A few minutes later Ayres denied Craig Norman as he latched onto a partially blocked free kick and in this frantic opening ten minutes Greaves headed wide as the visitors pressed for an early breakthrough.

Cirencester withstood the early pressure with Ellis Dunton making a number of timely interceptions as the home side worked their way into the game and shortly after the mid-point of the half a multi-pass move down their left flank enabled Mike Pook to switch play to the right flank where Will Christopher slipped the ball forward for Owen Windsor to curl an effort narrowly wide of the left post.

A few minutes later Christopher cut in from the right flank to drive the ball at the target from 30 yards leading to a corner kick as Alex Harris tipped the shot over his crossbar.

Cirencester were warming to their task and when Pook managed to toe-poke the ball forward from an opponent 35 yards out, centrally, it reached Alan Griffin who struck an instinctive volley wide of the left post.

Not to be outdone Cinderford pressed as the half was drawing to a close as James Harding  created a chance for Josh Hunt when he delivered a pass into the penalty area from the right flank and Lorcan Sheehan fired over from 35 yards, left channel.

Half Time:  0-0

After the break Cirencester started strongly as an incoming Tommy Anderson was inches short of converting an Aidan Bennett cross from the left flank at the back post. This was quickly followed up by further attacks down the right flank as Windsor fed Griffin and also switched play to Bennett on the left leading to a corner kick – both of which the visitors survived.

Cinderford responded to win a corner kick of their own before a dangerous ball from Sheehan on the right, 35 yards out, dropped into the mix of the back post where a series of shots and blocks took place before Ayres managed to drop on the ball.

As the hour mark approached Cirencester opened the scoring when Anderson sent the ball down the right flank to Windsor in the corner leading to a Cirencester free kick. Jack Freeman delivered the kick to the back post where Harris tipped it over his bar for a corner kick from the left. Mike Pook sent the corner kick long for Dunton to head down at the far right post and as it bounced back up ALAN GRIFFIN hooked it over his shoulder to strike the inside of the left post before dropping into the net.  1-0.

In reply Ben Watkins attempted a snap shot from 35 yards, right channel, that flew wide of the right post but two minutes after the goal it was all square again.

A long punt downfield dropped on the edge of the home penalty area where Hunt chased after it to challenge a defender and the ‘keeper leading to the ball breaking loose for a supporting CRAIG NORMAN to fire a low strike inside the left post of the empty net.  1-1.

Encouraged Cinderford pressed and a few minutes later after a series of corner kicks they had the ball in the net again but it was disallowed for ‘offside’. 

Cirencester reacted positively to create a couple of chances for Griffin but both headers were wide of the target and then, in this ‘end-to-end’ match, Cinderford’s Harding burst through for a 1v1 with Ayres that the ‘keeper blocked for a team-mate to clear.

Twenty minutes or so after the equaliser Cinderford made the breakthrough when a cross from the left by-line reached JOSH HUNT, to the right of the penalty spot, and his looping header dropped in off the inside of the left post.  1-2.

Cirencester nearly equalised immediately following a swift break down their left flank as Louis Spalding fed Windsor who slipped the ball into the path of Jordan Morris as he darted into the left channel of the Cinderford penalty area. Alex Harris advanced to close him down and Morris fired through his legs but the ‘keeper managed to divert the shot onto his right post and out for a corner kick that was headed over at the back post.

Into the final few minutes of scheduled time and a counter attack from Cinderford’s Blaine Waugh to the right corner resulted in a cross that a covering Anderson managed to clear for a corner kick.

With time running out Cirencester pressed with some neat incisive passing but Harris managed to push Christopher’s effort wide before following this up by catching the incoming cross after another fine move.

Three minutes into ‘added-time’ Waugh broke to the right corner to deliver a cross to the far side of the penalty area where Christopher produced a brave block to deny Hunt leading to a series of short corner kicks as Cinderford ran the clock down.

There was still time however for Windsor to release Freeman for one last shot that cleared the bar from 25 yards and victory was deservedly Cinderford’s who were the stronger side on the night.

Full Time:   1-2

As expected a very tough but entertaining match for the neutrals – not that there were too many of them attending – fit for the Final.

Plenty of commitment and fast, flowing football on a superb surface that encourages passing football for the purist.

 

CONGRATULATIONS to CINDERFORD TOWN and Best of Luck in the Final.

 

 

CIRENCESTER can look back on a season of progress:-

  • moving up from 7th place last season to 2nd place this season
  • scoring 110 goals in the league
  • having the two top goal-scorers in the Division
  • producing some fantastic flowing football for the supporters to enjoy

 

Roll on next season – I can hardly wait.

 

Attendance:  411                                                         

Referee:   Neil Pratt                           

 

CIRENCESTER TOWN:

 1.   Sam Ayres

 2.   Will Christopher
 3.   Louis Spalding
 4.   Michael Pook
 5.   Ellis Dunton
 6.   Jack Freeman
 7.   Tommy Anderson
 8.   Adam Connolly
 9.   Alan Griffin     (C)                                     58
10.   Owen Windsor
11.   Aidan Bennett

12.   Jordan Morris                               (Aidan Bennett-78mins)
13.   Declan Lehmann   (GK)
14.   James Mortimer-Jones
15.   Levi Irving                         (Louis Spalding-87mins)
16.   Sam Farr

 

CINDERFORD TOWN:

 1.   Alex Harris     (C)
 2.   Sam Turl
 3.   Lewis Binns
 4.   Ben Watkins
 5.   Nick Rhodes               
 6.   Andy Lewis
 7.   Craig Norman                                             60
 8.   Lorcan Sheehan
 9.   Richard Greaves
10.   James Harding
11.   Matt MacDonald

12.   Blaine Waugh                                (James Harding-81mins)
14.   Josh Hunt                                     (Richard Greaves-30mins)  84                              
15.   Robbie Atkinson
16.   Will Peck
17.   Jordon Dibble

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