Brooker sees both sides of Banbury’s inconsistent run

Kieran Symons was injured at Staines but recovered to score in Sunday's cup tie
Kieran Symons was injured at Staines but recovered to score in Sunday's cup tie

If only Banbury could reproduce their cup form in the league.

That’s exactly what manager Steve Brooker must be thinking after seeing both sides of Banbury’s inconsistent form in the space of 24 hours.

We are pleased to progress in the cup but it is the league that is more important

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

In Saturday’s 2-1 South Premier Hockey League defeat at lowly Staines, ill-discipline again cost Banbury as they were forced to play more than half the game with only ten on the pitch. And, with Aussie Kieran Symons on the bench injured for the second period, they dropped to sixth in the division two table.

The following day, Banbury progressed smoothly into the next round of the England Hockey Cup after seeing off Coventry & North Warks 8-1.

Banbury started brightly on Saturday and created good early chances but Staines took the lead in the 12th minute, breaking down the right the eventual cross was lifted over keeper Fergus Dunleavy by Richard Greene.

Promising approach play by the visitors began to pay off. Symons broke down the right and switched back into the centre before finding Joe Allen who made it two goals in as many games.

With ten minutes left, Banbury got the first of their yellow cards for a clumsy challenge that allowed James Lazio to convert the penalty corner and regain the lead for Staines.

Despite having only ten players on the pitch for most of the second half, Banbury kept the home side at bay with an impressive performance from centre back Harry Camp. Sparkling runs from Steve O’Connor and tireless work down the left from Louis Harris and Jonny Stirrup created chances but none were converted to leave the visitors frustrated after another below par performance.

Sunday was a very different matter, no disciplinary offences while Aussie talisman Symons returned to fitness and got on the score sheet. The in-form Allen (2), O’Connor, George Brooker, Barney Williams, Adrian Simons and Matt Bull also scored despite a hesitant start from Banbury who went behind early on.

Brooker said: “We are pleased to progress in the cup but it is the league that is more important. We must up our game for the home fixture against Purley next week, it is winnable but we have to get back to our best.”