Banbury face tough trip to try and turn season around

Steve O'Connor was on target for Banbury
Steve O'Connor was on target for Banbury
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Banbury’s fight to stay up is getting harder and they will be pushed to get anything at high-flying London Edwardians

Manager Steve Brooker can take comfort from and improved performance. But, with three straight losses against bottom half opposition, Banbury face a tough battle to stay in the top division of the South Premier Hockey League.

The lofty ambitions of the early weeks of the season are long forgotten as Banbury struggle to pick up much-needed division one points. Banbury are now second from bottom ahead of Saturday’s trip to second-placed Edwardians.

Banbury desperately needed a win against fellow strugglers Horsham after their disappointments in the first two games in the second half of the campaign. But, despite a hugely improved performance came away second best, going down 2-1 on Saturday.

Yet another change to the line-up saw the return of Harry Camp to partner Pete Lamb at centre back. Simon Boardman moved from centre forward back to defensive screen and Max Grosmith rejoinied the forwards after a spell in the second team.

Banbury reacted superbly to their recent set-backs and fought out a closely contested first half against feisty opposition which saw neither side create any real chances or even win a penalty corner as they went into the break all level.

But Banbury failed to deal the flamboyant drop-kick clearances of the home keeper which sent aerial balls the length of the pitch.

It was from one of those long aerial clearances that bounced past the Banbury defenders in the first minute of the second half. It left John Burroughs with a one-on-one against keeper Scott Reynolds for an easy score with the first real chance of the game to put the home side ahead.

Moments later Horsham burst down their right side, drawing a clumsy challenge to win a penalty corner, which was slotted home by Freddie Campbell.

Banbury were soon under the cosh again but Lamb made a tackle to deny the home side a third goal. He found captain Steve O’Connor who passed the ball on to Kyle White and then raced the length of the pitch to slot home from the cross provided by George Brooker who had been found by White’s long aerial pass.

The score started a Banbury revival but, just as the visitors found their form and were looking likely to snatch an equaliser, a clumsy challenge put them down to ten men for a sin-bin offence.