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Pitching In League Challenge Cup

First Round


Cirencester Town 5 - 3  Stratford Town


Click photo to view a slideshow of photos from the match

Match photos supplied by Graham Hill

Match report by Dave Pyzer


‘The Bards’ of Stratford Town, who currently sit in 5th place in the Premier Division – Central, travelled down from Warwickshire to take on The Centurions in the First Round of the League Challenge Cup – a competition they won in 2018-19 - and the sides produced an extremely entertaining 8-goal thriller of a match that included two hat-tricks.


Cirencester Manager John Brough made seven changes to the starting eleven that faced Easington in Saturday’s FA Cup tie to ensure everyone in the squad had some competitive game time and it was encouraging to see how well they settled into the match.    


The visitors kicked off playing towards The Shed end of the ground and after sending the ball back to the right back position it was soon launched to the left flank for Owen James to make ground to the edge of the home area to test his opponent and Tom Handley was certainly up for the challenge as he produced a superbly timed tackle to win the ball and start a counter attack.

A couple of minutes later Enoch Andoh popped up in the left corner to cut back from the by-line to shoot at the near post but Kevin Sawyer was quickly down to block and the ball supplied to Aidan Bennett who sent a 50- yard cross-field pass to Levi Irving near half-way on the left flank and he played it down the line to Ross Gabriel who took it to the corner – an indication of the ‘end-to-end’ football that was to follow.

An interception led to a counter attack as Andoh reached the front edge of the home area to shoot straight at Sawyer and it wasn’t long before he was back again to race Handley who once again timed his tackle to perfection resulting in a goal-kick.

Shortly after the 15-minute mark Cirencester opened the scoring when a corner kick into the ‘mix’ dropped to the lurking LEVI IRVING, near the left post, and he promptly converted.  1-0.

Around the mid-point of the half Cirencester produced two terrific moves that both ended with the ball being sent through the visitors 6-yard box without contact – Jordan Morris played a great pass down the left flank to Irving for him to cross the first and an interchange of passes between Gabriel, Bennett and Ben Whitehead for Bennett to cross the second.

The visitors then mounted a couple of attacks – Daniel Lafferty supplied Ahmed Obeng who cut left from the right flank but his pass was cut-out and then Andoh sent a low cross towards the penalty spot that resulted in a corner kick and a clearance header from Josh Nelmes followed by a strike from Jack Turner that was narrowly wide of the left post.

Cirencester responded to reach the left corner a few times but as they started another Irving was felled 10 yards inside his half, left flank, but a well-placed Referee waved ‘play-on’ and the cross that followed reached ENOCH ANDOH as he darted across the home box to volley inside the bottom right post from 10 yards, right of centre.  1-1.

Four minutes later Cirencester regained the lead following a superb strike from Joe Shepherd, centre front edge of the penalty area, that ‘keeper Liam O’Brien managed to block but the alert LEVI IRVING was on hand to head home.  2-1.

Five minutes before the scheduled interval Gabriel challenged and Shepherd collected the loose ball to shoot from 30 yards and this time O’Brien tipped it over his cross-bar.

Just before the break the busy Hancock made two committed tackles in the centre circle to win the ball but at some cost to himself as he needed treatment before he could continue.

Half Time:   2-1

After the break it was more of the same – fast counter attacking football.

From the re-start Morris played the ball down the left flank for Irving to charge from 10 yards inside the Stratford half to the by-line where he squared the ball to the front edge of the 6-yard box but unusually Whitehead failed to convert.

A couple of minutes later Whitehead was flattened, 30 yards out – right flank, but once again the well-positioned Referee allowed play to continue. Bennett collected the loose ball and galloped to the right corner before delivering a low cross to the front of the 6-yard box where    LEVI IRVING collected and calmly tucked inside the right post to complete his hat-trick.  3-1.

Almost immediately Stratford pulled the goal back as William Grocott sent a free kick from the left flank to the far post where Obeng fired back across goal for ENOCH ANDOH to dart forward and finish from close range.  3-2.   

The game continued in ‘end-to-end’ fashion and just before the hour Irving turned provider when he received the ball inside his own half and sprinted to the left channel of the Stratford box where he squared to BEN WHITEHEAD who made no mistake from 8 yards.  4-2.  

Shortly afterwards Irving did it again as he latched onto a tremendous Jordan Morris pass, through the Stratford backline, to lay the ball into the path of ROSS GABRIEL who tucked it into the net from 6-yards.  5-2.

Despite being a couple of goals down Stratford continued to counter at pace and when Obeng reached the right by-line his cross was too high but found its way back to him and this time his low cross to the penalty spot was met by Grocott who smashed it towards goal for Sawyer to block and then be cleared off the toe of Andoh by Nelmes. 

A typical 50-yard cross-field pass from Handley, from right to left, found Irving in the left corner and his cross into the visitor’s box was met by the head of Bennett and cleared back to Handley but this time he over-hit the pass.

Stratford were not done yet and as the game entered the final 10 minutes Kynan Isaac overlapped to the left corner and crossed towards the near post where a fast-arriving ENOCH ANDOH clipped the ball inside the post to complete his hat-trick.  5-3.   

There was still time for Gabriel to have an effort blocked, Irving to shoot wide of the right post and Bennett to have his shot tipped over the bar whilst for Stratford Isaac crossed into the side netting and had a cross-cum-shot go past the right post after a neat move involving Obeng, Ashley Sammons and Grocott.

Full Time:   5-3

A very entertaining cup tie, played at a fast pace throughout, with 8 goals and lots of end-to-end play.


Attendance:     106                                                       Referee:   Sam Read


Cirencester Town:

 1.         Kevin Sawyer
 2.        Tom Handley
 3.        Jordan Morris
 4.        Nick Hancock
 5.        Josh Nelmes
 6.        Ellis Dunton<
 7.        Aidan Bennett
 8.        Joe Shepherd     ©
 9.        Ben Whitehead                                    58
10.        Ross Gabriel                                       64
11.        Levi Irving                                           17, 36, 48 

12.        Jake Lee
14.        Joe Turley                              (Joe Shepherd-71mins)
15.        Tommy Anderson                   (Ben Whitehead-58mins)
16.        Michael Pook                         (Tommy Anderson-90mins)                                          
17.        James Mortimer-Jones


Stratford Town:

 1.         Liam O’Brien
18.        Jack Turner
15.        Kynan Isaac
 7.        Daniel Lafferty
19.        Lewis Wilson
 6.        Jordan Williams
17.        Enoch Andoh  32, 50, 79
 8.        Jack Self
10.        William Grocott     ©
14.        Ahmed Obeng                                      
12.        Owen James

 4.        James Fry       
11.        Ashley Sammons                     (Daniel Lafferty-58mins)
16.        Caine Elliott                             (Jack Self-69mins)
 2.        Daniel Vann
 9.        Jaanai Gordon                         (Owen James-62mins)

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