Dorchester pegged back by Centurions

BY: Dan Rose – Dorset Echo Sport


It was honours even at the Avenue as Dorchester Town were pegged back by Cirencester Town in a game where both sides battled hard for a point in treacherous conditions.

Luke Holmes’ sublime first-half finish was cancelled out by a powerful headed effort from Cirencester’s Mark Pritchett 11 minutes later, and, although both sides had chances to find a winner in the second period, they were left to settle for a share of the spoils.

With the loss of Jonah Ayunga to Brighton, Dorchester included Toby Holmes in their squad for the first time since announcing he had signed for the club.

The striker, who scored against Cirencester for Poole Town to secure his maiden league goal for the Dolphins earlier in the campaign, was named among the Magpies’ substitutes.

But the big news from the home team’s starting XI came as Shane Murphy returned straight back in goal following his spell at Wimborne. He replaced Alan Walker-Harris.

Visitors Cirencester went into the contest looking to build on the momentum of their 3-1 win at Chesham on Saturday. Striker Ross Langworthy was also praised for his display up front at the weekend and was named in the visitors’ starting XI at the Avenue.

But it was visiting striker Charlie Griffin who had the first half-sight on goal for the Centurions. He skipped past a couple of men on the edge of the area but his tame effort dribbled past a post, causing Murphy no problem on his return.

The Magpies’ first opportunity came on six minutes as Charlie Davis whipped in a devilish delivery and Chris Dillon’s glancing header fell into the clutches of goalkeeper Josh Langley.

Murphy was then given his first real test when Cirencester captain Leigh Henry brought the ball down on the edge of the area and hit a low stinger at goal which the gloveman got down well to thwart.

Dorchester’s Luke Holmes then saw his strike fly well wide for the hosts after a good run from midfield but, with his second attempt minutes later, he made no mistake in putting the home side ahead.

The young midfielder was allowed the space to run in behind the visitors and latch on to a ball from deep. His first touch set up the angle to finish with power and comfortably beat Langley.

Holmes and Oakley Hanger then combined nicely down the right flank with a cross that caused a slight bit of panic from Langley on the breeze but, with 26 minutes on the clock, the game was level once more.

Magpies’ first-team coach Stuart Heath had warned his side in the build-up to the contest about the danger from the Centurions’ set-pieces and that was to prove the key for the away side’s leveller.

A well-directed corner from Langworthy was met with a bullet header from Pritchett, which flew into the net. Nathan Walker, still operating up front for the county town side, then sent a header just wide from a Davis corner as the Magpies looked to restore their lead.

As the rain hammered down at the Avenue, Cirencester’s Matt Liddiard must have thought he had put his team ahead. He smashed the ball at the back post from a dangerous centre but the strike was somehow scrambled away.

Following the break the Magpies fashioned a good chance to regain the lead on 55 minutes. Midfielder Franklyn Clarke nipped past his man and stood the ball up nicely for Walker, who headed narrowly off target unchallenged.

Clarke continued to try and make things happen as he surged forward on the counter and, after cutting in on his left foot, sent a tame shot into the grasp of Langley.

Toby Holmes then replaced Luke Holmes in search of a winner. Walker then headed at goal from another Davis corner, forcing a great save to keep the score at 1-1.

After a meaty challenge from Dorchester’s Matt Oldring on the edge of the box was called a foul. Pritchett tried to double his tally for the away side, sending in a stinging free-kick which deflected just wide.

And both teams spurned a chance each to win it late on when Cirencester’s Langworthy should have done better but blazed over from Liddiard’s cross unopposed. Walker then could have won it with another headed effort but was thwarted by keeper Langley.

Magpies: Murphy, Hanger, Smeeton, Clarke, Oldring, Dillon, Davis, L Holmes (T Holmes 72), Walker, Sayers (Watson 57), Martin. Subs not used: Walker-Harris, Jermyn, S Ayunga

Cirencester: Langley, Anson, Bennett, Pritchett, Liddiard, Henry, Connolly, Mortimer-Jones, Langworthy, Knight (Kotwica 75). Subs not used: Hooper, Lloyd

Bookings: Magpies – Hanger

Cirencester – None