White grabs stoppage-time winner as Puritans get back on track

Callum White grabbed the stoppage-time winner for the Puritans
Callum White grabbed the stoppage-time winner for the Puritans

Callum White grabbed the stoppage-time winner as Banbury United ended a run of three straight defeats to get back to winning ways.

The Puritans came from behind to beat Stratford Town 2-1 in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash.

All three goals came in the second half of the premier division contest at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium, the first league meeting between the two clubs in 50 years. Ben Stephens broke the deadlock but United got back on level terms through Guy Clark’s own goal and White won it in stoppage-time.

Club captain Andy Gunn retained his place in central defensive so Ricky Johnson went back up front, with Zac McEachran in just behind.

United were straight on the offensive, White’s dangerous low cross was cleared and McEachran advanced into the box but shot just wide of the upright.

Stratford soon settled into the contest and began to enjoy more possession but chances were at a premium in the first half. Stratford only threatened from an early free-kick which United again struggled to deal with.

The first half developed into a scrappy affair with United forcing the issue against a side which concedes few goals. The industrious Stephens kept Stratford ticking over as they enjoyed their share of possession.

United forced a couple of corners before the break and put Niall Cooper under pressure from each one but the Stratford keeper dealt with the aerial threat.

Stratford’s best chance came in first half stoppage-time when United only partially cleared a corner to the edge of the box but Kieren Westwood’s volley was comfortably saved by Jack Harding.

Stratford started the better of the two teams after the restart and broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Edwin Ahenkorah found space on the right flank and delivered a dangerous low cross which evaded Harding and Stephens turned the ball in from close range.

Manager Mike Ford threw on George Jeacock to try and get back on level terms. That produced a spell of pressure from United, especially from corners, and Johnson headed wide from a good position.

But substitute Simeon Tulloch had a glorious opportunity to double Stratford’s advantage immediately after coming on. Daniel Summerfield released Michael Taylor whose cross to the far post found the unmarked Tulloch but he volleyed over from six yards.

Jack Self had an effort deflected wide for a corner as United mounted some late pressure. And it paid off in the 80th minute when Marvin Martin’s low cross was turned into his own net by Clark.

Cooper thwarted Johnson a minute later, saving from point-blank range as United suddenly sensed a winner. Cooper tipped over McEachran’s drive from the edge of the box as Stratford were finally forced to defend in depth.

McEachran forced Cooper to turn his low shot around the post and from the ensuing corner Johnson headed wide. But United won it two minutes into stoppage-time when White’s cross eluded Cooper and ended up in the back of the net.