SOUTHERN LEAGUE: Win is perfect present for Cirencester

CIRENCESTER gave themselves the ideal festive gift by moving top of Southern League Division One South & West at Christmas after a 3-2 win at Evesham.

James Mortimer-Jones, Steve Davies (pen) and Lee Smith ensured the Gloucestershire side arrived at the summit, with Ben Prictor’s late sending-off a minor blot on proceedings.

Ciren had the breeze behind them in the first half at the Jubilee Stadium and made the most of that advantage when they took the lead in the seventh minute.

Home keeper John Bateman only managed to clear a backpass around 30 yards under pressure from Aidan Bennett, and the ball came to Mortimer-Jones who lobbed the stopper superbly from distance.

It took the hosts 20 minutes to get into the game and they had their first attempt on goal through ex-Centurion Carl Brown, but he was unable to find the net.

The Ciren advantage was close to being doubled when Davies fed Smith on the left flank and the latter beat his man before sending in a cross that Bennett misjudged, allowing Bateman to collect.

It was not long before Brian Hughes’ troops grabbed number two, though, and it arrived in direct fashion in the 34th minute. A long kick from keeper Glyn Garner bounced over Linden Dovey and Smith latched on to the ball in behind the defence, only to be brought down by Jared Wilson.

Referee Chris Husband immediately pointed to the spot but showed only a yellow card, with Davies sending Bateman the wrong way from the spot.

The wind increased markedly in the second period and that seemed to play a role in Brown misjudging the speed of the ball when he was twice put through one-on-one, before he nearly made amends with a fizzing drive that was tipped over by Garner.

Eventually the Evesham pressure told as they pulled a goal back midway through the second half, with a corner falling to the feet of Brown who squeezed his shot inside the upright.

However, cold water was quickly poured on home hopes of a fightback when Smith charged into the penalty area, jinked past his marker and smashed low beyond Bateman.

Cirencester were reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute when Prictor’s challenge on Ed Williams in the box earned him a second yellow card, but although Richard Mansell drilled the spot kick successfully down the middle, the visitors held on for victory.

Meanwhile, Luke Abrahart has revealed that his spell at Cirencester’s league rivals Swindon Supermarine is over.

The striker, who joined the Webb’s Wood Stadium club in the summer, was not included in the 16-man squad for Saturday’s home game against Didcot - which was ultimately postponed.

Abrahart tweeted: “see you later supermarine” and later added that “I’ve done one” in a conversation with Marine keeper Kent Kauppinen.

The former Woodford man has been a bit-part player this season and at the time of writing had not confirmed his departure to boss Dave Webb.

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