City made few changes
and looked the better side for most of the first half. Although Ciren
showed the occasional spark up front they looked woeful at the back.
Cox's pace obviously worried their defence, and they focused their
efforts on failing to cope with him to the detriment of marking Baylo
who had plenty of space.
After Cox had worked
himself a good early opportunity City opened the scoring from a
corner. Medcroft swung the ball in towards the far post and the Ciren
keeper flapped despairingly as it sailed beyond him. Abbott was the
grateful recipient, nodding home unchallenged from six yards.
City should have added
to their lead on several occasions in the next ten minutes. Bayliss
saw a volley fly over while Abbo almost scored his second with a low
rasping drive. Cox scampered clear on a couple of occasions and with
both Jenks and Medcroft carving the home defence open with every
attack it seemed another City goal feast was coming.
However on 21 minutes Ciren pulled
level as they broke through City's defence for the first time. Ally
Hines blocked bravely as Carter ran clear, but the rebound fell to
Probert who tapped in. City should have replied immediately by
restoring their lead, but Cox saw another good effort smarlty stopped.
The Ciren keeper then showed surprising agility for a fat boy when he
got to a Medcroft shot curling inside his far post after clever play
by Tucker and Jenkins had created some space on the left.
Ciren made the most of City's misfiring in front of goal and put
themselves in front with a good long distance shot by Griffin. City's
left flank had been outpaced by Ciren's right-back before Griffin let
fly with a swerving drive that beat Ally all ends up. City then had a
great chance to pull level from the spot after Jenks had tumbled to
the ground under a clumsy challenge. Cox took the penalty kick but
skied his effort over the bar.
City didn't look to
have enjoyed half-time and matters weren't helped by the departure of
Marshall who looks more in need of a close season break than anyone.
City were just beginning to get back into their stride on the hard
rutted pitch when they were hit by a sucker punch of a goal. Another
long kick from the keeper sailed over the defence for a flicked header
which fell to Griffin. He hit a superb lob over Ally and ran off to
celebrate his second 'goal of the season' entry of the game. City just
We did manage something
of a fight back and Ciren's defence still looked shaky. After a little
pressure we pulled one back when Rae flicked on a right sided
free-kick and Andy Grange headed past his own keeper in a classic own
goal style. Even that went wrong though, as City were still laughing
when Ciren went straight up the other end and restored their two goal
advantage. Ally turned a shot past his post but was nowhere to be seen
when the corner came over leaving an easy header for Carter.
The match then became a bit more of a fight as tempers got a little
frayed and the two young sides got a little over competitive. City
were now dominating the attacking play, with the introduction of Lee
Smith giving the Ciren defence another fast attacker to worry about.
City were unlucky not to get at least one penalty when Bayliss was
wrestled away from the ball and then Smith was tripped as he raced
clear. Neither were given, but city continued to press. Jenkins sent
in a good shot from long range, then Smith sent in a stinging shot
just wide after a good run by Cox. City's best chance fell to Medcroft
who lifted his shot high after Abbott and Smith had put him in.
However the real drama of the game was saved for the closing minutes.
Callinan had already been booked earlier in the game and with all of
his experience should have set a better example than getting drawn
into the battle in the centre of the park. However as the tackles got
later and more rash Callinan could not resist flying in to confront
Cirencester's Giles Harris. Harris went down clutching his face as if
he'd been head-butted and a very angry Callinan got thirty seconds
head start on the others in the queue for the shower.
'Chopper' Callinan was then replaced by another Chopper altogether.
The pitch was then cleared smartly at the final whistle to allow a RAF
rescue helicopter to land on the pitch. Apparently a serviceman had
suffered a broken neck in an accident nearby. The drama got rid of the
pitch's covering of sand and at least offered some distraction from
City's return to their bad old defensive habits.