Derby defeat puts pressure on ahead of big six-pointer

George Brooker was on target for Banbury at Oxford Hawks
George Brooker was on target for Banbury at Oxford Hawks

Banbury are already facing a six-pointer as they look to arrest their slide in the South Premier Hockey League.

After picking up only a single division one point in November, Banbury lost their first December fixture in Saturday’s derby at Oxford Hawks and now face London Wayfarers in a vital six-pointer this weekend.

Banbury produced one good half of hockey at Hawks but they gave themselves too much to do and went down 4-1.

Last moment changes to the Banbury defensive line and yet another injury on his return for Harry Brooker, left another new combination to hold out at free-scoring Hawks.

Hawks unzipped the unfamiliar visiting line-up within three minutes with Ted Bennet giving them an early lead. Another quick home break was only halted by a clumsy defensive challenge resulting in a sin-bin penance for Josh Nunneley and Jack Biggs scored from the penalty spot.

Banbury increased their pace and began to match Hawks but another defensive error gave Biggs the chance to send home side into the break 3-0 up.

When Biggs slotted another penalty corner after the restart it began to look as if Banbury may capitulate. But, instead, the visitors pressed ever harder and higher.

With Aussie Kieran Symons at an unfamiliar right back position he was able to take a side line hit quickly on to Steve O’Connor. He burst through the right side of the home defence to cross for George Brooker to grab one back for the visitors.

The goal gave Banbury real heart and they began to press Hawks back into their defensive third. Returning talisman Harry Loxton rattled the helmet of the home keeper.

But the visitors failed to convert any of a series of penalty corners that might have had a game changing effect.

So, despite the improvement and keeping the second half scores level, they have now gone seven consecutive games without a win.

Adrian Simmons hit a hat-trick as Banbury II beat Oxford II 6-1 in the MBBO Hockey League.

Banbury maintained their promotion push in regional two as they got back to winning ways. Dave Clark (2) and Tyson Nunneley also got on the score sheet for third-placed Banbury ahead of Saturday’s trip to second placed Amersham.