CIRENCESTER TOWN 2 - 1 PAULTON ROVERS
ROVERS EDGED OUT BY LATE WINNER FOR CIRENCESTER.
Paulton Rovers were edged out in an entertaining, yet ultimately frustrating game as Cirencester snatched all 3 points thanks thanks to an 82nd minute winner by the leagues's most prolific striker, Ben Whitehead.
Following a string of postponements, there was finally a debut for recent signing Mitch Tippins in centre midfield, whilst more recent signing Nuno Felix made his first start at left-back.
The end to end tone of the game was set as early as the first minute when Josh Morgan-Williams firstly fired a free-kick straight at Ciren keeper Jonkerman and then straight after the home side went close with a fierce shot flying wide of Hannah's post.
It was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken and it did come after 8 minutes in the way of towering header by Paulton's Sam Hedges. After taking the initial corner, impressive debutant Nuno Felix found himself out on the right hand side giving him the chance to whip in a lethal in-swinging cross to the far post where Hedges had ghosted in and rose to power an unstoppable header home.
Depsite wet conditions, the high quality 3G pitch was encouraging flowing football by both sides that was easy on the eye. Non more so than Rovers wide man Dave Sims who's pace and guile was causing mayhem to the Ciren back line in the first half.
Firstly in the 21st minute Sims simply outpaced the full back before then beating him a second time and whizzing in a low cross that just beat everyone and then on 33rd minute, when looking second favourite against two Cirencester defenders, he somehow managed to beat them both before playing the cutest of flicks inside to Jack Ball who was through on goal only to see his shot just skew wide of the post.
The home side were also looking a threat and on the 40th minute, Cirencester got their equaliser after striker Ben Whitehead latched onto a through ball and finished well past Hannah to go into the break all square.
The open nature of the game continued almost immediately after the restart when firstly a whipped in free-kick by Dale Evans was gathered by the Ciren keeper who then countered quickly only for Kyle Knott to make a last ditch challenge to deny the Ciren striker.
As the half grew on, pressure was building by the home side but the Rovers defence was standing firm with the centre half pairing of Ford and Hedges wining the aerial battles time after time. Hedges, looking like he was carrying a knock was later replaced by Joe Chandler and in search of winner, Rovers looked to inject some more pace into the attack when Omar Simpson replaced Jack Ball around the hour mark.
Going into the final 10 minutes, the game was wide open and still there for taking, and Rovers almost got the breakthrough on the 81st minute after a swift counter attack ended up with the ball at the feet of Morgan-Williams 20 yards out. The Rovers number 10 made some space for the shot by cutting inside on his right foot and went for a curling effort which just dipped over the crossbar. It was a fine effort but Rovers were made to pay only 1 minute later when the ball was laid off to Ciren's Ben Whitehead who made no mistake with a rifled shot past the diving Hannah to give the home side the lead.
There was only one thing left for Rovers to do and that was attack in pursuit of an equaliser. This inevtiably left gaps at the back and Whitehead had a golden chance to grab his hat-trick and secure the 3 points when he was through on goal only to be denied by a terrific save by Hannah low down to his left. The danger wasn't over as the ball parried out to Tommy Anderson who, with the goal at his mercy somehow managed to miss the target.
Paulton desperately tried to take advantage of the let-off with a string of corners in injury time but couldn't force the ball home before the referee blew for full-time to the relief of the home crowd.
Full Time: Paulton Rovers 1 - 2 Cirencester Town
Entertainment Value: 4/5
|14||ATTEMPTS ON GOAL||16|
|6||SHOTS ON TARGET||6|
Rovers are back in action at home on Tuesday night when they welcome league leaders Taunton Town (Kick-off 7.30pm), followed by another home game next Saturday (10th Feb) against Barnstaple Town (Kick-off 3pm).