No luck in return trip to the Cotswolds
By Thomas Shepherd
Under 18s give Cirencester a run for their money in the replay but ultimately come up short
Eight days on from the floodlight failure leading to the abandonment of the original tie, the Under 18s found themselves back at The Corinium Stadium for a second bite at reaching the First Qualifying round and a potential home tie with Chippenham Town.
The early nerves from last week were a distant memory as injury and availability issues gave starts to Louis Howard and Josh Abrahams in place of Thamani Bechlemba and Kyrus Ward and a change in formation to the preferred 3-5-2 from last week's 4-1-4-1. However, eight minutes in Cirencester took the lead and doubled their advantage just after the quarter-hour mark.
Despite the setbacks, the team continued to play the ball confidently out from the back, and were rewarded on 26 minutes when a deep cross from Tommy Davis evaded everyone in the area to find Aaron Mansfield stealing in at the back post to head past the Cirencester keeper and reduce the deficit to 2-1. The remainder of the half saw the teams evenly matched and no further score.
A slow start to the second half by the visitors saw the hosts restore their two goal advantage after only a couple of minutes. The O's continued to battle and pulled a second goal back after 54 minutes when Tommy Davis rose highest to head a free kick home. Further chances for Oldland could have seen them draw level as first a Bradley Lewis effort went just over the bar and then Maison Wilson's headed effort was ruled out for another Oldland player interfering with play from an offside position.
Cirencester scored a fourth when Bradley Lewis was adjudged to have fouled the opposition's forward in the area, leading the bench to introduce first Luke Woodley-Marshall for Louis Howard followed by a double substitution with Mitchell Jones and keeper Liam Davis replacing an injured Bradley Lewis and Luke Wilson.
With legs getting heavy and a tiring team, Cirencester made sure of their progression into the next round with a fifth goal before having a sixth ruled out for offside.
Overall, a mightily encouraging performance from the players which showed they had learned a number of lessons from the previous week's match. Next week sees them start their League campaign at home to Ashton & Backwell at Castle Road on Wednesday (7.30pm).