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GFA Senior Challenge Cup

Quarter Final


Cirencester Town  3 - 2  Bristol City U23’s


Click photo to view a slideshow of photos from the match

Match photos supplied by Graham Hill

Match report by Dave Pyzer


BRISTOL CITY U23’s were the latest visitors to The Corinium Stadium as Cirencester Town entered this season’s GFA Senior Challenge Cup at the Quarter Final stage and after an entertaining and competitive match the home side made it through by the odd goal in five to face Slimbridge in the semi-final.


With a number of tough fixtures scheduled in the next month Cirencester Manager, John Brough, made seven changes to his starting eleven for this match (when compared to that which started against Highworth Town in the previous match) to check the fitness of the squad as several were returning from long-term injuries.


The young Robins kicked off playing towards The Shed end of the ground and attacked down their right flank but after initially being repelled they were soon back again as Sam Pearson fired a fierce low shot towards the far-left post from 20 yards that brought a full-length save from custodian Alex Harris. 

During the next ten minutes or so Cirencester pressed down their flanks to win several corner kicks that didn’t trouble Harvey Wiles-Richards in the City goal too much. 

The home side were awarded a free kick on their right flank, near the half-way, that Tom Handley drove to the far-left flank to be fed to Jordan Morris (making his first appearance since September) who darted to the corner before crossing to the back post where Ben Whitehead fired wide of the right post. 

As Cirencester pressed again they were awarded another corner kick from the right and this time Nick Hancock delivered it to the near post where BEN WHITEHEAD produced a clever flick with his left heel that evaded everyone to open the scoring.  1-0 

The home side were pressing regularly as Handley had a run before releasing Hancock who played the ball forward to Joe Shepherd who crossed from the right flank to the far post – defended.

Ellis Dunton then cleared the ball downfield for Ross Gabriel to play it back to Whitehead who supplied Hancock but his pass down the right channel was ‘shepherded’ out for a goal kick. 

Mike Pook headed the ball on for Whitehead to collect and gallop to the right side-edge of the City box where he was fouled. Nick Peare, in his first game since early October, sent the kick to the far post where Wiles-Richards managed to gather after a shot had been blocked. 

The Robins had been defending for much of the game but there were signs they were beginning to settle as they worked the ball down their right flank before committing a foul but they were soon back again, down their left flank, but Dunton was quickly across to deal with the threat. 

City then worked their right flank again to win a corner kick that was delivered into the mix where Harris was able to gather. They then fed Prince Henry in the right channel of the home penalty area but his shot was wide of the right post. 

Just as the visitors appeared to be gaining some momentum, they suffered a further setback when Whitehead’s cross from the left by-line was blocked for a corner kick that Hancock delivered to the near post where after a scramble ROSS GABRIEL pounced to blast the ball into the roof of the net from close range.  2-0. 

From the re-start Tommy Backwell made a strong run down the centre of the pitch, riding two tackles, before passing the ball to his right for a supporting Pearson to fire over the bar. 

Almost immediately Jamie Knight-Lebel embarked on a driving run down the right channel and his ‘cross-shot’ was collected by Barney Soady, near the left by-line, and he clipped it to the back post where SEBASTIEN PALMER-HOULDEN headed home.  2-1.  

As the half drew to a close Whitehead was released for another run to the edge of the City box but his resulting shot was caught by Wiles-Richards.

Half Time:   2-1

After the interval the visitors immediately pressed down their left flank as Soady made ground a couple of times to the corner but there the threat ended.

Cirencester countered down their left flank to win a couple of free kicks that didn’t trouble the City defence but at the hour mark as Cirencester were working the ball forward, out of defence, a home player was robbed and the ball quickly fed to TOMMY BACKWELL who drove it inside the left post from 25 yards to level the scores.  2-2.    

Game on.

With the bit between their teeth City immediately attacked the left flank again as Soady crossed from the left by-line to Palmer-Houlden, centre – 10 yards out, who headed the ball down and as it bounced back up it struck the left post before Peare cleared it. 

A minute later as Cirencester were working the ball forward they were awarded a free kick that Peare sent to the far post where Gabriel headed it back across the 6-yard box for Whitehead to drive home from close range – but their joy soon evaporated as the Assistant Referee had his flag raised indicating ‘offside’.

The game continued at a frenetic pace as Pearson exchanged passes with Backwell, on to Omar Taylor-Clarke, left to Khari Allen who sent the ball into the home penalty area where Palmer-Houlden fired wide of the right post.

Joe Shpeherd then delivered a superb pass down the left channel for Whitehead to collect near the edge of the City area but Allen was quickly across to force him wider and back to Morris and Peare. The resulting cross was defended. 

Both sides were moving the ball about at place – Cirencester made several passes to reach the City box and City countered as Backwell intercepted, cut left along the edge of the home area before slipping it through for a team-mate who fouled Harris in his eagerness to get to the ball. 

Callum Hutton latched onto a loose ball to fire into the side-netting from the left corner of the 6-yard box and Palmer-Lebel had his shot blocked by Harris before City suffered another setback. 

Into the final five scheduled minutes and Dunton played the ball down the left channel from half-way towards the edge of the City box where Aidan Bennett won the ball to supply BEN WHITEHEAD and he wasted no time as he tucked it inside the far-right post to regain the lead.  3-2. 

Cirencester were soon back again as a corner kick was sent into the mix for Wiles-Richards to catch above Whitehead and following a quickly taken free kick Handley advanced to shoot over the bar. 

In ‘added-time’ Pearson received a pass inside the home area for a 1v1 with Harris that the ‘keeper won and Cirencester quickly launched the ball downfield for Whitehead to release Shepherd to the left by-line and his low cross was laid back by Bennett to Tommy Anderson who fired wide of the right post

There was still time for a City corner kick that Backwell headed wide of the right post and Cirencester were through.

Full Time:   3-2

A very entertaining match - played at pace with plenty of commitment and flowing football for the ‘hardy souls’ that ventured out on a cold evening to watch.


Attendance:     ??                                                         Referee:   Tom Staten


Cirencester Town: 

 1.         Alex Harris
 2.        Tom Handley
 3.        Jordan Morris
 4.        Nick Peare
 5.        Elliott Keightley
 6.        Ellis Dunton
 7.        Joe Shepherd     ©
 8.        Michael Pook
 9.        Ross Gabriel                                         37       
10.        Ben Whitehead                                    13, 86
11.        Nick Hancock                          

12.        Joe Turley                               (Nick Peare-68mins)
14.        Josh Nelmes                                                                
15.        Aidan Bennett                          (Ross Gabriel-72mins)
16.        Tommy Anderson                      (Michael Pook-77mins)
17.        Jake Lee


Bristol City U23’s: 

 1.         Harvey Wiles-Richards
 2.        Jamie Knight-Lebel
 3.        Barney Soady
 4.        Omar Taylor-Clarke
 5.        Khari Allen
 6.        Robert Cundy     ©
 7.        Samuel Pearson
 8.        Dylan Kadji
 9.        Prince Henry 
10.        Sebastien Palmer-Houlden                    40
11.        Tommy Backwell                                   60

12.        Callum Hutton                           (Prince Henry-60mins) 
13.        Mac Boyd
14.        Filbert Awusu-Antwi                (Omar Taylor-Clarke-75mins)
15.        Nathaniel Williams                   (Robert Cundy-46mins)

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