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Men's 1s Vs. Marlow 1s - Saturday 4th March 2023

Simons Grabs Two as Banbury Crowned Prem Champions - Next Stop National League!

Banbury HC - 3 Marlow HC - 2

Banbury sealed the league title away from home against a tough second placed Marlow with a nail biting 3-2 win - the winner being scored by Harry Simons 4 minutes before full time. Banbury now have 4 games left knowing they have the league title in their pocket.

The first half was a cagey affair as both teams knew this could be the decider with Marlow 10 points behind Banbury but mathematically able to catch them if they took the points and with 4 games remaining. Banbury started brightly and within 4 minutes great work by Will Kellett and Jacob Buckner Rowley won a penalty corner and Joe Allen’s strike from the breakdown was well saved by the Marlow keeper. The traffic wasn’t one way though as the Marlow midfield got into gear and won a penalty corner after 10 minutes which was well saved by keeper Kit Lamb and then expertly cleared by Tyson Nunneley. Then after 14 minutes Banbury got the breakthrough when Simons won a penalty corner and then converted it with a great deflection off Josh Nunneley’s flick to the post. Captain Kellett nearly made it 2-0 when he bullied his way into the Marlow D and unleashed a vicious tomahawk shot which the Marlow keeper somehow managed to save with his stick. Marlow recovered and for the next period put the Banbury defence under real pressure. The tenacious Joe Allen, Connor Roberts, Darsh Theara and Pete Lamb in the heart of the Banbury defence had to work hard to stem the attacks and Pete Lamb having to make a critical last ditch tackle to keep the lead. The game then opened up with both sides playing great attacking end to end hockey. Tyson Nunneley worked the ball through midfield beautifully to find Simons in the D who just put the ball wide with a fine tomahawk shot. But it was Marlow who grabbed the next goal with a fast attacking move down the right wing and a perfect deflection in at the far post to make it 1-1. The game nearly swung the other way to Banbury and Buckner Rowley and Sam Chadbourne pressed the Marlow defence hard down the left, and Andrew Scanlon and Tyson Nunneley both came close with the Marlow keeper denying them with two great saves. The half finished 1-1 with the game finely balanced and both teams needing to draw breath after a frantic half.

Banbury came out of the blocks stronger for the second half. Within 2 minutes Scanlon’s quick free hit was nearly converted by Tyson Nunneley with a deft reverse stick deflection, and great work between Josh Nunneley, Will Kellett, and Chadbourne winning two more penalty corners in succession but with no conversions. Connor Roberts and Joe Allen in midfield started to control the game and disrupt the Marlow attacks. Then 15 minutes into the half Josh Nunneley carved through the Marlow midfield and defence to win another penalty corner which Man of the Match, Sam Pick, scored with a sharp deflection from another Nunneley flick to the post giving Banbury a 2-1 lead. Nunneley and Scanlon came close again shooting just wide and over the bar but Marlow equalised with ten minutes left on the clock with a freak but well taken goal. A speculative reverse pass and deflection down the pitch looped over the Banbury defence and was expertly taken down and slipped past Keeper Lamb to make it 2-2. Banbury fought back to get the 3 points with Simons, Tyson Nunneley, Pete Lamb and Chadbourne pressing to win more penalty corners but they went unconverted. Then to the delight of the travelling Banbury fans Simons grabbed the winner with 4 minutes to go hammering a half chance home to win the game 3-2. The visiting supporters saved their wild celebrations for the final whistle as Banbury became league champions with 4 fixtures still to go.

Manager Andy Camp said “this has been an amazing season building on the success of the national cup win and runners up league position last year. This was a tough place to come to and grab those last 3 points but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Marlow are a talented team and both sides gave the supporters a great game. We are now champions, but we want to play the last 4 games to win like we have all season. Credit to the lads and coach, Richard Hobley, they’ve delivered early!”

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