Injury-hit Centurions pay the penalty against early pacesetters
CIRENCESTER TOWN 1 BRIDGWATER TOWN 4
CIRENCESTER Town were beaten by top-of-the-table Bridgwater Town in controversial circumstances at the Corinium Stadium on Saturday.
Leigh Henry was not available due to a back injury and to make matters worse for Cirencester, Steve Davies pulled up in the warm-up with a thigh strain.
Cirencester's Aiden Bennett, who took the place of Davies, made an early run down the left, sending a good ball over to Lee Smith on the right.
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He made his run into the box and appeared to be brought down, but calls for a penalty fell on deaf ears with the referee.
The visitors took the lead on two minutes after the ball was played quickly upfield by Bridgwater. Joe Bushin's pace took him into the box and he then fired a shot past Glyn Garner to make it 1-0.
Cirencester nearly equalised minutes later after a free-kick by Ellis Dunton to the far post.
Smith blasted the ball towards goal but it was deflected out for a corner.
In the 30th minute Bennett saw a long-range shot fly over the bar as Cirencester looked to make it 1-1.
They scored the goal they had been looking for on 41 minutes, Will Morford finding the net with a glancing header.
Everything changed for Cirencester in the 47th minute when a challenge outside the penalty area was seen by the linesman as being inside it.
After consultation between a linesmen and the referee, a penalty was awarded and Jon Vance fired the spot-kick home to make it 2-1 for Bridgwater.
In the final minutes of the first half Chris Holland picked up a back injury in the Bridgwater penalty area and was replaced with Brad Hooper.
Without the core of their back four, with both Henry and Chris Holland out injured, it would prove to be a tough test for the makeshift Cirencester defence in the second half.
They were exposed in the first minute after the break when a Bridgwater ball down the middle found found Bushin and on the half volley he fired the ball past Garner to make it 3-1.
On 55 minutes Bushin, after two clinical finishes, wasted a golden chance to complete his hat-trick and put the match beyond the home side when he put too much on a lob over Cirencester keeper Glyn Garner.
What Cirencester considered to be poor decisions by the referee continued when, after a corner for Brian Hughes' side, James Mortimer-Jones headed at goal.
Bridgwater goalkeeper Chris Wright appeared to tip the ball over the crossbar but the referee gave a goal-kick.
Another apparently poor decision occurred when a loose ball was in the box.
The Bridgwater keeper seemed to come out two-footed in a 50/50 challenge with Joe Shepherd, both going for the ball.
The referee sent off Shepherd with a straight red but didn't caution the keeper.
To compound a miserable afternoon for Cirencester, Daine O'Connor scored a fourth goal for Bridgwater on 90 minutes before Cirencester's Jon Beedon was sent off for dissent in injury time.
Bridgwater were worthy of their win and looked genuine title contenders, while Cirencester will hope to get their injured players back quickly.
Cirencester Town: G Garner, S Anson, E Dunton , J Mortimer-Jones, C Holland (B Hooper, 45), J Beedon, J Shepherd, M Liddiard (S Collier, 68), W Morford, S Davies (A Bennett), L Smith. Not used: D Bromley, J Bevan.
Bridgwater Town: C Wright, K Miller, P Veal, B Middleton, C McGrath, J Pilling, J Vance, D Griffiths, M Page, J Bushin, A Wilson. Subs: G Merceica, D O'Connor, S Thomas, G Bater, S Alexander.
Referee: Simon Brown