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BetVictor Southern League Challenge Cup

Semi Final 


Cirencester Town  2 – 1  Winchester City

Match Report by Dave Pyzer


A late Tommy Anderson strike secured victory for Cirencester against a gallant Winchester City side that had recovered from conceding a goal in the first four minutes to be level at the interval.


The League Challenge Cup Semi-Final brought ‘The Citizens’ of Winchester City to The Corinium Stadium for the second time this season – this time for a semi-final that, based on their previous visit, promised another thrilling encounter as following a highly competitive league match in November the visitors collected the 3 points on offer with a 4-3 victory.  


The visitors kicked off playing towards The Shed end of the ground and unusually carried the ball down the centre line and then to their left flank where it was lost for Ross Gabriel to switch play from right to the left corner and a few minutes later Cirencester tried their right flank as Toumani Sidibe cut in from the flank to the front edge of the visitors penalty area before slipping the ball down the right channel for Mike Pook to cross from near the by-line towards the front edge of the 6 yard box as ROSS GABRIEL darted forward to instinctively clip the ball with the inside of his right foot over his left shoulder and into the top left corner to give the home side the perfect start.  1-0.

Encouraged Cirencester continued to press down their flanks but as the ’20-minute’ mark approached the pace of Oliver Bailey and Rob Carr enabled the visitors to threaten in quick succession as both players latched onto through-balls into the home area to be confronted by Kev Sawyer but they both tried to ‘chip’ the experienced ‘keeper who won the contests.

Shortly afterwards Will Wellon intercepted a pass near the centre circle and embarked on a 30 yard run that took him past several ‘would-be’ challenges en-route to the left side edge of the visitors penalty area and resulted in a shot from Lewis Thompson that was saved by Harry Birchnall.

By the mid-point of the half the visitors were beginning to work the ball forward with more conviction as Joe Hayward, Oliver Balmer, Oliver Griggs combined to release Simba Mlambo in a cross-field move that ended with a cross behind the goal -  but it was a sign Winchester were settling to their task and sure enough a quick counter attack after a Cirencester attack resulted in an equaliser.

After winning the ball near their penalty area it was played down the right channel for ROBERT CARR to chase and hold off a challenge as he moved into the home box before slipping it past an advancing Sawyer and inside the far left post.  1—1.  

For the remainder of the half it became an ‘end-to-end’ affair as both sides sought to get on top and as the half was drawing to a close ‘Storm Dennis’ decided to join in with a heavy down-pour but despite this the players continued to play their football in the proper manner.

A terrific 40 yard pass from Kieran Douglas reached Jamie Barron who fed Carr but Sawyer blocked his effort and shortly afterwards Sawyer was called into action when a corner kick from the right was headed against his bar to drop near his right post where he, Bailey and Nick Hancock all battled to get the vital touch but it was Sawyer that won out to collect the ball.  

During this period Jordan Morris embarked on a strong run down the left flank with his deep cross reaching Gabriel at the back post, back to Sidibe, left to Jack Freeman but his pass towards Gabriel was too strong and the move petered out. Lewis Thompson then tried his luck with a cross toward the front edge of the visitors 6-yard box where Douglas headed clear and Sidibe and Gabriel worked it forward again.

As the interval loomed Freeman drove down the centre to the edge of the Winchester box but instead of shooting he slipped the ball right to Sidibe, in space just inside the box, but Sidibe’s left footed effort clipped the side netting just behind the right post.   

Half Time:  1-1

During the interval Tommy Anderson replaced Toumani Sidibe and straight from the kick-off the home side attacked as Jordan Morris sent the ball down the left flank for Thompson to collect and slip to a supporting Freeman, forward and into the Winchester area, right to Anderson, back to Freeman, left to Gabriel and left to Thompson – shot blocked and cleared but a clear indication of intent.

Cirencester had once again started positively as Morris drove forward again to send a dangerous ball through the front edge of the Winchester 6-yard box and minutes later he was at it again as he carried the ball from the edge of the Cirencester box to the centre circle where his progress was unceremoniously halted.

At this time Morris seemed to be a magnet for the ball as when Mlambo released Bailey it was he who got back to challenge and win the ball 20 yards out and shortly afterwards Hancock also produced a well-timed tackle to prevent Bailey making progress.

As the hour mark approached Joe Turley intercepted a pass in the centre circle and immediately moved it right to Gabriel who fired over the bar from 25 yards and this was quickly followed by a battling Anderson being awarded a free kick – 40 yards from goal, right flank. Nick Hancock delivered the kick towards the penalty spot – headed out but dropped for Wellon to strike a firm volley narrowly wide of the right post.

Cirencester had enjoyed a dominant start but as the mid-point of the half approached Winchester indicated that they were not intending to lie down as Dan Williamson made a couple of strong runs to the right corner to cross the ball into the danger area and from one of these Sawyer had to be alert to deny Bailey as he darted forward to head.

The home side responded as Hancock played the ball down the right flank for Anderson to turn on the ‘after-burners’ as he sped to the corner to send a low cross towards the near post as Levi Irving closed – parried but when it was fed back in Irving’s glancing header was wide of the target.

A neat move involving Jonny Dennis, Hancock and Morris eventually returned the ball to Dennis as he worked his way along the front edge of the visitor’s box but his resulting shot was saved by Birchnall.

With 30 minutes gone Morris then fed Freeman who slipped a clever ball with the outside of his left foot, whilst facing towards his own goal, between defenders into space as Anderson darted forward to collect in the right channel of the Winchester area before shooting narrowly wide of the left post.

Into the final scheduled 6 minutes and Winchester were awarded a free kick near the left front edge of the home area – Barron delivered it to the far post where Morris headed behind for a corner kick that Barron sent to the front of the 6-yard box where it was eventually cleared.

The enthusiastic Anderson then carried the ball down the centre before being robbed in the centre circle for Barron to deliver a low cross through the home area from 40 yards but it didn’t take long before Cirencester were driving forward again as Morris reached the front edge of the Winchester area and moving left towards the flank Dennis picked his pocket as he moved in the opposite direction to send a curling effort just over the top right corner.

Then finally Cirencester made the breakthrough as the ball was worked down the right and crossed to Dennis on the left. He cut right and slipped the ball to Irving near the penalty spot and his shot was blocked rebounding to an incoming TOMMY ANDERSON who blasted it from just inside the box, right channel, inside the left post.  2-1.

Into ‘added-time’ another Morris run was stopped for a counter attack as Craig Davis ventured forward to send his pass past the far left post and then Irving carried the ball into the Winchester area a couple of times to be denied and with a last throw of the dice Williamson charged forward to cross from the right corner but Josh Nelmes firmly headed clear and a few minutes later it was all over – Cirencester were through to the final.

Later confirmed to be against Chesham United who are currently 2nd in the Premier Division.

Full Time:   2-1 

Another ‘nail-biting’ encounter between the two sides that produced some periods of exciting football in at times difficult conditions.   


Attendance:  97                                  

Referee:   Mr Simon Brown (Solihull)   




1.   Kevin Sawyer
2.   Nick Hancock
3.   Jordan Morris
4.   Michael Pook     ©
5.   Josh Nelmes
6.   Will Wellon
7.   Toumani Sidibe
8.   Joe Turley
9.   Ross Gabriel                                               4                     
10.  Lewis Thompson
11.  Jack Freeman

12.  Levi Irving                                     (Ross Gabriel-60mins)                         
14.  John Dennis                                   (Lewis Thompson-60mins)
15.  Tommy Ouldridge
16.  Tommy Anderson                           (Toumani Sidibe-46mins)  89
17.  Lewis Clayton   (GK)



 1.   Harry Birchnall  
 2.   Daniel Williamson
 3.   Joe Hayward
 4.   Oliver Griggs
 5.   Craig Davis
 6.   Kieran Douglas
 7.   Oliver Balmer
 8.   Jamie Barron
 9.   Oliver Bailey
10.  Simba Mlambo
11.   Robert Carr                                               27

12.  Max Smith                                     (Oliver Griggs-47mins)
13.  Ryan Pryce (GK)
14.  Ik Hill                                            (Oliver Balmer-82mins)
15.  Jordan Preston
16.  Lawson Bright





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