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Cheltenham Civil Service put five past Little Stoke in eight goal thriller

Little Stoke concede five to Cheltenham Civil Service in thrilling eight goal encounter, registering their first league loss in over four months.

Scoring twice in as many minutes through Lewis Driscoll and Chisom Obi, Civil Service held the early advantage midway through the first half.

Little Stoke halved the deficit when Aaron West saw his volley fly in off the bar. 

The goals didn’t stop there as Driscoll grabbed his second before Mike Oliver of Civil Service put the ball in his own net while defending a corner to make it 3-2 to the hosts.

Oliver responded perfectly, heading home from a free kick just before Obi got his second of the day to make it 5-2. The visitors made it 5-3 in the final minute thanks to Alex Hill to round off a thrilling contest in the Gloucestershire County League.

How it happened

Little Stoke looked to utilise their pace out wide, playing a number of balls over the top hoping to unlock the Civil Service defence. 

The visitors nearly grabbed an early advantage through Jason Yeo. The tricky winger blasted a 35-yard free kick goalwards, but keeper Cam Cheal was equal to it as the hosts eventually put the ball out for a corner. 

However, the hosts would burst into life with a swift passage of play through the Little Stoke half. After some neat play in midfield, Jamie Lewis received the ball on the right and fed Driscoll who drove into the box and slotted past the keeper to make it 1-0.

Just two minutes later, Civil Service doubled their lead following a counter attack off a Little Stoke corner. The pressure of Deco Chick forced the visitors into a defensive error, allowing Obi to run through on goal and eventually roll his shot into the bottom right to make it 2-0.  

Little Stoke would halve the deficit when Ethan Moore found Aaron West with a cross from the left wing. After a tidy first touch, West kept the ball under control with a further two, allowing him to loop a fantastic volley over the keeper and in off the bar to make it 2-1.

Into the second half and Civil Service maintained their attacking threat with both the midfield and attack finding openings in behind the Little Stoke defence.

A few minutes later and Chick was involved as he controlled the ball under pressure and played in Driscoll who was advancing down the left. Making his way into the box, he fired a powerful shot just out of reach of keeper Dutton to make it 3-1 with just over half an hour left to play.

However against the run of play, the deficit was reduced six minutes later when Civil Service centre half Mike Oliver inadvertently turned a Little Stoke corner into his own net to make it 3-2.

Three minutes later, and with the game poised for a tense final 20 minutes, Lewis lined up to swing in a free kick from just inside the Little Stoke half. Curling the ball all the way to the back post, Oliver was there to bullet a header past the keeper, restoring the lead his side arguably deserved. 

The character shown by the hosts was extremely impressive as they refused to let their opponents back into the game, with Little Stoke unable to mount a comeback. 

With just under 20 minutes to go, Civil Service yet again came forward on the counter.

Blake collected the ball on the right and played the ball to Lewis. Again, he delivered an inch-perfect ball into the box, allowing Obi to come onto it and bundle the ball home from close range to extend the lead to 5-2. 

Little Stoke, despite the score line, never stopped working as they searched for a lifeline. They grabbed their third of the day in the final minute thanks to captain Alex Hill as the goal fest ended 5-3 to Civil Service. 

What Cheltenham Civil Service head coach Steve Holend thought

“It was really good to get the team back to the performance level we’ve been hitting in recent weeks,” said Holend.

“The whole point of this performance was to draw a line under the Frampton game. I thought we scored one of our best goals of the season with the first goal of the game. It was a massive turning point in the game after a bit of cat and mouse early on.

“We came out in the second half in really good spirits, and the way that we played was really positive. There was definitely a spell in the second half when we were just ripping them apart going forward.

“Something we need to be mindful of going forward is that we switched off late on. It didn’t cost us today but we’ve got to be more careful in the future.”

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