Banbury Men’s 1s, 19th/20th March 2016
A weekend of disappointment saw Banbury come away with losses from League games away to Old Cranleighans and then at home to Henley.
Travelling to 3rd place OC’s with no substitutes meant that the selected 11 had to dig deep. The squad included recalled Ashley Laverick and Nick Best both of whom performed well in the difficult circumstances. Banbury started strongly and were only seriously threatened by long passes crashed into toward keeper Scott Reynolds who again performed very well to keep the scores level. But after 24 minutes the home side were able to take the lead with Jimmy Smith finishing the move from close range.
Banbury kept their discipline better than in recent weeks and adapted very well to the absence of substitutes with heroic performances all over the pitch to maintain their characteristic attacking style and keep forcing pressure onto the home defence. But despite creating as many chances as the stronger home side the visitors were unable to convert either their penalty corners or the passes that flashed across the goal.
Hopes were high for the postponed game against league strugglers Henley for the home fixture on Sunday but got off to the worst possible start by conceding a soft goal after only 40 seconds as Ross Hibberd tapped in at the far post. A less than convincing performance from the home side, albeit now strengthened with substitutes available, was further punished after 22 minutes as Johnny Taylor extended the visitors lead. But, maintaining the attacking style which has seen them through tough times all year Banbury pushed back and with Tyson Nunnley breaking through midfield to deliver the ball for Steve Campbell to set up Simon Boardman who scored from close range only 3 minutes later.
With both sides playing their second League game of the weekend and tiredness errors creeping in, it was Banbury who began to dominate and Campbell was able bring the scores level early in the second half. With Henley fighting back Harry Camp capped a weekend of fine performances to keep the visitors at bay as the game swung back and forth.
Henley needed a win to gain League safety and gambled by replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player for the last 5 minutes of the game. Banbury could have snatched a lead as the Henley defence was stretched and then failed to capitalize on a penalty corner with the visitors compromised by the lack of a goal keeper. But as the home side faltered Henley broke away to win a hotly disputed penalty corner which saw Tom Walter give them a crucial win with the last touch of the game.
A disappointed Steve Brooker lamented the 2 losses commenting “We showed great character on Saturday to so nearly bring a point back from OC’s and we have failed to take advantage when we could have snatched victory against Henley. But, we know we are safe in the League for next season and we can learn more from a difficult weekend than we did from an easy win last week. We have the chance to finish our season on a high the week after Easter and then look forward to a summer of preparation for next year.”