Calor League Div One South & West
Cirencester Town 3
FOR 70 minutes Yate Town looked set to spoil the Cirencester Town title party as they bossed the championship challengers, just as they had done in the reverse fixture back in December, writes Danny Hall.
One-nil up from a first-half Jake Jackson goal, Yate appeared comfortable after the break and looked on the point of adding to their tally.
But two effective Cirencester substitutions and a critical seven-minute spell in which the visitors fired in three goals turned the game on its head.
It meant the Centurions finished on 92 points, three clear of Merthyr Town, who now bid to win the second promotion slot against Tiverton Town, Paulton Rovers and Swindon Supermarine in the play-offs.
Yate meanwhile finished the season in a respectable ninth position.
Yate had gone in front in the 37th minute when Jackson side-footed home a cross from Lewis Haldane who had broken through the Ciren back line down the left channel.
Mike Bryant had earlier tested Glyn Garner with a header and Haldane himself put a first-time volley wide at the end of a first half in which the lacklustre visitors failed to muster a shot on target.
The half-time hair-drier treatment from boss Brian Hughes prompted only a short-lived response from his players at the start of the second period and Yate were soon back in the ascendancy when, after some sustained pressure, James Harmer hit a first-time volley from Haldane's nod down which went just wide of Garner post. A forlorn and leggy Cirencester were at this point looking down the barrel of a defeat.
With main rivals Merthyr Town ahead in their final match and therefore facing the prospect of losing the title and the possibility of a play-off campaign with an utterly deflated team, Hughes swapped two midfielders for attacking players, introducing first Shane Bumphrey and then Jacob Davidge, two of the Town's buoyant Development Team which had clinched their own Hellenic League title the previous Saturday.
Suddenly there was some youthful energy about Ciren's play; nonetheless it was one of the experienced campaigners, James Mortimer-Jones who provided the turning point in the 70th minute.
'Jonah' was one of the few Town players who had performed to his normal high standards in the opening hour and Yate made the critical mistake of backpedalling as Ciren's midfield fixer advanced on goal.
Jinking to his left to get a sight of goal 25 yards out, Mortimer-Jones unleashed a sweetly-struck left-footer that whistled past keeper Martin Horsell before wheeling away to the Ciren supporters and his two-year-old son George who was watching his very first game of football.
Suddenly the floodgates opened. Three minutes later Bumphrey outjumped Yate's lofty centre halves, flicked on a back header and Lee Smith, anticipating perfectly, raced through on goal before coolly dinking the ball over Horsell for his 38th goal in all competitions this season.
The unlikely turnaround was completed in the 76th minute when the kids inadvertently combined for a winning one-two.
Davidge, having danced around two tackles on the left, rifled a goal-bound shot which cannoned back off the head of Bumphrey near the line and fell back to the feet of the winger. Davidge rather scuffed his second effort but it took a deflection before trickling over the line.
The youngster was too stunned to celebrate until he had been mobbed by his team-mates.
There was no way back for a now totally shell-shocked Yate side as Cirencester played out time and there even a late cameo from the retiring goal legend Jody Bevan in the final minutes.
Yate Town: Horsell, Cox, Clifford, Chandler, Fletcher, Abrahams, Harmer, Bryant (capt), Jackosn, Haldane, Ricketts,.
Subs: Tippins, Dunn, Staley, Meaker, Harrison.
Cirencester Town: Garner, Hooper (Bumphrey, 53), Bennett, Pritchett, Liddiard, Henry (capt), Shepherd (Bevan, 85), Mortimer-Jones, Wells (Davidge, 65), Davies, Smith.
Unused subs: Holland, Bromley.