Cirencester Town 1 Windsor & Eton 1
After a month of woeful form Ciren at last played a decent game of footy against the team they followed up into the Premier Division last spring. Windsor are under threat of closure but, throughout all their financial troubles, their team have stuck together. With few changes from last season they have continued to play tough, slick football and have only lost five League games.
Ciren played Carl Brown and Connor Thompson up top with Mark Draycott in the pivot role. The two compact, speedy forwards buzzed purposefully and to good effect between and behind the leviathan Windsor backline because the Ciren midfield were putting their foot on the ball and picking their passes. The zip in the Ciren forward play was drawing fouls from the Windsor defence, with Sam Wadieh collecting an early caution as he dropped Brown when he was beaten for pace within 10 minutes.
Michael Chennells is the goal scorer par excellence in this League, tricky, speedy and composed, and has David Pearce and Jake Parsons as two dangerous wide players to supply him with his chances. He was on target early when Adam Bernard was put away down the right. When he crossed Ciren Academy keeper Charles Steward did well to get his body behind Chennell’s instinctive first time drive.
On 15 minutes Tom Eteridge and Draycott combined well up the left and fed Connor Thompson who cutely reverse-passed Brown in on the edge of the area. His spin and dart completely foxed Woozley who clipped him to concede a penalty which Draycott drove confidently beyond Rob Bullivant. A minute later Jamie Reid interpassed with James Mortimer-Jones up the right, with Thompson again joining in to good effect to free Brown. His angled snap shot beat Bullivant but shaved the far post.
Windsor had to rely on counter attacks, with Parsons proving a safe outlet up the right, and Steward had to make a superb diving save to divert away a Dwane Lee drive from the edge of the box after a corner was only half cleared on 21 minutes. Skipper Dave Woozley should have had the leveller on 24 minutes, left unmarked at a free kick but somehow screwing his header wide from 6 yards.
Up the other end, another quick, accurate set of passes between Thompson and Brown, put into space by a sublime McKay pass, had the Academy youngster played in by a first time return pass. Draycott was clear on his left with a tap in beckoning but the youngster chose to shoot, with Bullivant going down early to block only for the ball to clip the keeper’s flailing left leg and zip the wrong side of the post.
Ciren were very much on top, with the Windsor defence railing at the linesman as Brown played right on the edge and kept getting away only to be stopped illegally. Bullivant did well to come and claim a stream of testing free kicks. On 38 minutes it was a foul too far for Wadiah, once again dropping Brown, and his second yellow saw him walk.
Much to their credit, Windsor came out fired up in the second half and, as often happens in adversity, played better with 10 men than they had done with 11. Bullivant continued to be busy, saving from Draycott then much relieved when Brown escaped but from 18 yards lifting his lob just as at the last moment the ball hit a divot and he miscued crucially just wide.
But it was Windsor, with Fiston Manuella dominating midfield, who were playing the more incisive passing football. Bernard chased a long clearance by Sullivan up the right on 58 minutes. Closed down by Callum Henry, he bustled past with the defender choosing not to take a caution for the team. Chennells was already surging up the middle, losing his marker, and as the cross came in moved smoothly to meet it and drive first time past Steward from 14 yards.
Ciren came back but with Windsor upping their commitment the battle surged between the respective penalty areas. Bullivant was the busier keeper, though when they did have time Windsor played the better passing football but rarely got within range of Steward. On 70 minutes Ciren worked three openings in as many seconds when Etheridge sent Mortimer-Jones away on the left and from his cross Bullivant saved from Brown, then Thompson and finally Draycott as the shots rained in and were blocked away.
Ciren continued to work openings, frustrated three times by dreadful flag decisions including once when Brown came from inside his own half onto a defence splitting pass. The closest Ciren came to a winner was when Paul Banks got beyond Chris Owens but put his first time volley from the edge of the box too close to the imposing keeper.
In fairness, a draw was a fair result but Ciren can now look forward to two important away games, at Leamington midweek then at Banbury, with more confidence than in previous weeks.
Ciren: Steward, Sysum, Etheridge, Henry, McKay, Tomkins (c), Reid, Mortimer-Jones, Draycott, Brown, Connor Thompson [Banks 80] subs: Wood, Jack, Westlake
W&E: Bullivant, Sullivan, Owens, Lee, Woozley (c), Wadieh, Parsons, Manuella, Bernard, Chennells, Pearce subs: Gladwin, Collins, Gould, Bernard
Ref: Mr D Leach, Witney Att: 127 MoM: Carl Brown (Ciren) Fiston Manuella (W&E)