SOUTHERN LEAGUE: Smith at the double for Ciren
6:00am Monday 19th August 2013 in Latest News
CIRENCESTER put down an early marker in the new season with a classy victory at big-spending Tiverton.
Two goals from summer signing Lee Smith earned the Centurions the points, but in truth the scoreline did not accurately reflect their superiority.
The established back four were a formidable unit, with Leigh Henry particularly excellent, while debutant Matt Liddiard was composed in midfield where the rapidly developing Joe Shepherd has also been a find.
But, even at this early stage, it is up front where Ciren appear a different side this season. Will Morford did not recover in time from a knee injury to make his first start so the hard-working Sam Collier led the line while Steve Davies and Smith swarmed around him, and Tivvy never got to grips with their pace, trickery and direct running.
Even before Ciren took the lead in the seventh minute, the pair had fashioned a good chance, as Davies played Smith through and his firmly-hit cross shot fizzed just wide of the post.
Four minutes later the visitors were in front. Good harrying from the front men forced Jonathan Viscosi into an underhit clearance, which Shepherd batted back into the box and after a defender failed to deal with the awkward bounce Smith finished in style.
Tivvy have drafted in a number of signings with Football League pedigree during the summer, but it was the ex-Bodmin pairing of Shane Krac and big striker Adam Carter who exercised the Ciren defence most, while former Forest Green man Steve Reed pulled the strings in midfield.
On one of the few occasions that the hosts put Glyn Garner’s goal under threat - in the 12th minute - they were level. Neat build-up play led to a wicked cross coming in from the right and Chris Holland could only help into his own net.
It was a lively, open contest at this point, but Ciren remained the more potent of the two sides.
A 25-yard rasping strike from Davies prompted a fine tip-over from Viscosi, but from the resulting corner it was 2-1 as Smith swept the low corner home first time on the half-volley from 15 yards.
And Smith was denied the hat-trick that his fine display deserved when setting his sights from 20 yards, only to see his curling effort come back off the inside of the post.
With the rain falling more strongly, the second half was a more scrappy affair. And with Tivvy’s most influential player, Reed, switching to left-back to replace Chris Long at the break, the hosts became ragged.
Reed did send a warning shot just wide of the goal in the 61st minute and the generally disappointing hosts did belatedly try to fire up some pressure.
However, it was nothing that Shayne Anson and his Ciren rearguard could not deal with, with keeper Garner not required to make a save of note.
The visitors should have dismissed any nervousness associated with a one-goal advantage when breaking at pace in the 81st minute. The ball worked its way to substitute Aiden Bennett and his firmly-hit strike was superbly saved by Viscosi.
Nevertheless, Ciren held on for three hard-earned points.