Dunleavy’s heroics fail to save Banbury from defeat

Banbury's Barney Williams and Guildford's Will Chapman battle for possession
Banbury's Barney Williams and Guildford's Will Chapman battle for possession

Banbury had goalkeeper Fergus Dunleavy to thank for saving them from embarrassment against Guildford.

But it was not enough to earn any points as Banbury lost 4-2 in Saturday’s South Premier Hockey League fixture.

Despite the defeat, Banbury remain fifth in division two as other results went their way but they will be disappointed with a performance marred by ill-discipline.

Guildford, relegated with Banbury last season, are a very different outfit this time and started strongly in a finely balanced contest gaining the first clear opportunity with a penalty stroke. But, having saved a penalty last week, Dunleavy repeated the feat with another fine save to keep the scores level.

Moments later Banbury broke down the left and the crashed pass into the D from Louis Harris was deflected by Barney Williams past the motionless Guildford keeper to give Banbury the lead.

In the very last minute of the first period there was another case of déjà vu when Banbury won a penalty corner and Aussie Kieran Symons slammed his drag-flick home in characteristic style.

Going into the break in the unfamiliar position of what seemed to be the momentum of a comfortable lead, Banbury threw it away with poor discipline leading to series of green and yellow cards leaving them with only nine players on the pitch. With reduced numbers, the home side conceded two goals in the space of a minute through James Dellis and Tanner Bottomley.

With the numbers back to 11-a-side, Banbury tried to claw their way back into the game and were kept afloat by a near miraculous quick reaction save by Dunleavy. But as they counter attacked the Symons penalty corner machine faltered when his drag-flick was also well saved.

It was Guildford that struck next through Dellis to gain the lead and, with Banbury again reduced to nine players for the closing five minutes, Dellis completed his hat-trick for the visitors crowning a complete turnaround in fortune to run out convincing winners.

Manager Steve Brooker put a brave face on it but must have been dismayed to watch his side implode and loose some of the advantage from last week’s hard won victory at Trojans.

He said: “Of course we are disappointed but we know what to work on. It is still early days and we have the chance to get back to where we want to be before the mid-season break.”