Harding gets the praise for another top performance

Banbury United keeper Jack Harding is having another excellent season
Banbury United keeper Jack Harding is having another excellent season

For so many budding keepers, a lack of inches means they will never have a career in the full-time game.

But there is life outside the pro game and Jack Harding is making a name for himself in non-league football.

Andy Sinnott and I agree that Jack Harding is as good a goalkeeper that either of us have worked with in non-league football

Puritans boss Mike Ford

So much so, that Banbury United manager Mike Ford and his assistant Andy Sinnott reckon the 24-year-old keeper is the best they’ve worked with in the non-league game.

That conclusion was backed up fully by Harding in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over St Ives Town. A virtual on-looker for much of the Evo-Stik Southern League clash, Harding was suddenly put on the spot, literally.

St Ives had a great opportunity to break the stalemate from a second half penalty but Harding pulled off a great save to keep out Josh Dawkin’s spot-kick. That gave United the platform to go on and win the game in dramatic fashion and Ford knew the value of that save.

Harding has been one of Ford’s finest signings after he snapped him up from Ardley United in 2015.

He said: “It was a decent penalty and if I was their player I would be aggrieved because it was a fantastic save to keep us on level terms. That gave us a platform to go on and win the game.

“Andy Sinnott and I agree that Jack Harding is as good a goalkeeper that either of us have worked with in non-league football. Without stating the obvious, if Jack was a few inches taller he would be earning thousands each week playing in professional football.

“I’ve said this so many times, he’s such a calming influence for us. We can play the ball back to him and he never gives it away.”