Howards sees red as Puritans bow out of cup

Ricky Johnson is denied by Shildon's Dom Curl and keeper Nick Liversedge but the Banbury United captain was on target at Didcot Town
Ricky Johnson is denied by Shildon's Dom Curl and keeper Nick Liversedge but the Banbury United captain was on target at Didcot Town

Darren Pond missed the crucial spot-kick as Banbury United went out of their second cup competition in four days.

The Puritans lost 7-6 on penalties in Tuesday’s Evo-Stik Southern League Cup first round tie at Didcot Town where they had to play for most of the game with only ten men after Leam Howards was sent off. The game finished 2-2 after 90 minutes and went straight to a penalty shoot-out in which Didcot converted all five of their spot-kicks before Pond missed.

Manager Mike Ford selected a much changed starting line-up following Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup exit at the hands of Shildon.

Didcot started the slightly better of the two sides but United went close when the ball bounced around the area before falling to Tom Winters whose fierce shot from 15 yards went just over.

The game developed into an even affair before United took the lead in the 18th minute when a Winters’ free-kick from 25 yards was well saved by former Puritan Leigh Bedwell but Howards was on hand to slot the rebound home from a narrow angle.

United received a huge set-back in the 22nd minute when Howards went for a through ball and collided with Bedwell on the edge of the area. But with Howards having his foot raised, the referee deemed it was worthy of a red card.

Though Didcot had not looked particularly dangerous after the sending off they equalised in the 35th minute when the United defence gave the ball away and former Puritan George Jeacock hit a superb strike from 22 yards into the top corner of the net.

Didcot nearly went ahead just before the break but Lewis Hayden’s 25 yard shot went just wide.

The second half saw Didcot, not surprisingly, having more of the game but United worked hard and defended well, restricting the home side primarily to long range shots. And to their credit, United still looked lively going forward and always looked as if they might score.

And in the 85th minute, Pond got the better of Sam Elkins before crossing low into the centre where Ricky Johnson was on hand to knock the ball home from six yards. But United are unable to hold on to leads for long at the moment and a minute later Didcot levelled when a cross was knocked home from close range by Josh Pin.

So at the end of 90 minutes it was straight to penalties. Didcot scored all five but with Pond missing it was the home side who advanced to the second round.