CIRENCESTER recorded an impressive 6-1 victory over struggling Guildford City to keep up the pressure on table-topping Merthyr as the two prepare to meet next Saturday.
Merthyr may have dropped just two points at home all season but they again showed their vulnerability away from Penydarren Park by losing 2-1 at Wimborne.
What’s more, eight of Merthyr’s final 13 games are away from home.
Ciren were good only in patches against Guildford but their emphatic victory took them within three points of the leaders – and they still have three games in hand.
The hosts had done little to threaten Guildford in a scrappy opening and it was 22 minutes before they broke the deadlock. Steve Davies fizzing a wicked cross into the six-yard box which a sliding Lee Smith did well to control into the roof of the net.
Five minutes later, Leigh Henry, who is a far more than a hoof-it-and-head-it centre back, showed exquisite skill in the box to take down a cross with his first touch before picking his spot to place the ball past Antony Hall in goal.
The third Ciren goal in the 30th minute was the pick of the lot. Ciren broke forward at pace, Smith switched play to the right and Davies’ first-time cross was firmly headed home by Matt Liddiard at the back post.
With the game more or less over as a contest, Ciren allowed City back into the game and the visitors finished the half with a flourish, both Joel Greaves and Bruce McPhail firing shots just over the bar.
The City back four, played a high line throughout and caught the Ciren runners offside repeatedly. They were unlocked again when Davies ran from deep on to a hoisted Smith ball over the top before successfully lobbing Hall.
Smith and Davies again combined for the fifth, with the Welsh winger pinging a ball into the six-yard box with such ferocity that pacy full back Dammy Bada could only help it over the line.
In the 85th minute, Guildford pulled an unlikely goal back – a reward for not completely capitulating. Joe Shepherd had seconds earlier come off the bench to take his place defending a free kick and, with his first touch, inadvertently cleared straight to Jamie Thoroughgood, who sent the ball straight back past Garner.
Shepherd did finish the game on a high, however, breaking dangerously into the right side of the box before unselfishly picking out debutant Will Morford for a tap-in.