Liddiard 33

MATT Liddiard’s first-half header dented Dorchester Town’s hopes of winning a third league game in succession at the Avenue this afternoon.

Dorchester player-manager Mark Jermyn had the luxury of being able to name the same starting line-up for a third game running.

And the Magpies also kept faith with the formation that had brought them wins over Hungerford and Arlesey.

That meant Nathan Walker played up top with Ben Watson and Dan Smith, while Jermyn, skipper Jake Smeeton and Chris Dillon, the supporters’ club player of the month for January, were the three at the back.

However, the hosts were forced into a change just seven minutes in when Sam Lanahan had to be replaced by Matt Oldring.

Clear-cut chances in the early stages were hard to come by, the Centurions fizzed a few efforts over Alan Walker-Harris’ crossbar, while opposite number Glyn Garner comfortably dealt with a couple of tame attempts at goal from Dorchester.

Nat Jarvis, the man who had scored four against the Magpies when the sides met earlier in the season, had a quiet start this time around.

The encounter was some 21 minutes old when he had his first real opportunity to score, though he will have been relieved to see the linesman’s flag go up for offside when he missed from no more than five yards.

There wasn’t a lot to separate the teams in the first half an hour, but that didn’t matter to Cirencester when they took the lead in the 33rd minute.

A corner was floated deep to the far post, Ellis Dunton headed back across goal and Liddiard had to simplest of tasks to nod in from a yard out.

Back came Dorchester and five minutes later Walker went close to equalising.

A long ball down the middle was latched on to by Watson, his effort was blocked by the onrushing Garner, and Walker fired the just wide with the visiting keeper stranded.

Playing with the breeze in the second half, Dorchester’s quest for a leveller began with Jermyn blasting a shot over the bar and Lewis Morgan badly miscuing an effort from 10 yards.

He wasn’t helped by an Avenue pitch that caused problems for both sets of players all afternoon.

Portsmouth loanee Bradley Tarbuck almost made it 1-1 in the 61st minute.

After playing a give and go with Watson, Tarbuck let fly from just outside the area and would have scored had Garner not produced an excellent fingertip save.

Tarbuck was in the thick of it again soon after, but when Garner came out of his goal to clear from Watson the youngster couldn’t find the empty net.

Dorchester made their second substitution with a quarter of the match left, though the first thing Ryan Murray did after replacing the disappointing Smith was to pick up a caution.

The Centurions should really have wrapped things up 11 minutes from the end.

Ed Williams cut inside from the left and went past a couple of Magpies’ defenders, but he ultimately took too long to shot.

When he did his effort was blocked by Smeeton and Walker-Harris pounced on the loose ball.

The inevitable late surge came from the home side and they could have snatched a draw if it wasn’t for a brave piece of goalkeeping from Garner.

Walker headed down a Tarbuck cross to Morgan but the midfielder was denied by Garner at point-blank range.

However, the drama wasn’t over.

Deep into stoppage time, Garner completely misjudged a Smeeton free-kick and appeared to take out Oldring.

The ball fell to Jermyn and when he went down under a challenge all of the home fans expected the referee to point to the penalty spot.

They thought he had awarded the Magpies a penalty seconds later, but the official gave a goal-kick instead.

Some pushing and shoving ensued and both Oldring and Cirencester’s Herring were booked for their involvement in the fracas.

Magpies: Walker-Harris, Lanahan (Oldring 7), Tarbuck, Jermyn, Smeeton, Dillon, Morgan, Gleeson, Watson, Walker, Smith (Murray 67). Subs not used: Brookes, Parrett, Murphy.

Cirencester: Garner, Herring, Dunton, Pritchett, Liddiard, Jones, Hooper (Wells 90+2), Mortimer-Jones, Jarvis (Davidge 80), Bennett, Williams. Subs not used: Knight, Henry.

Bookings: Magpies – Murray (foul, 69), Jermyn (foul, 86), Oldring (unsporting behaviour 90+6).

Cirencester – Hooper (foul, 51), Jarvis (persistent fouling 77), Herring (unsporting behaviour 90+6).

Referee: Robert Dabbs (Plymouth)

Attendance: 404