Loxton returns with a bang as Banbury sign off in style

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Banbury rounded off their South Premier Hockey League campaign with a final day victory over Spencer.

Banbury welcomed back last season’s top scorer Harry Loxton for his first game of 2017 and his hat-trick sealed a 6-3 win over Spencer but it came too late to save his side from relegation in division one.

Relegation was confirmed last week but Banbury manager Steve Brooker wanted his side to sign off on a positive not at NOA.

Banbury started strongly again and an early aerial pass from Aussie Kieran Symons found Tyson Nunneley whose jinking run into the D drew a foul from the Spencer defenders and Kyle White slotted home the resulting penalty corner.

But the home side showed its vulnerability, conceding two open play goals and a converted penalty corner in the next ten minutes. Spencer extended their advantage but Banbury were back to something of near their best and White’s reverse-stick pass cross was deflected past the Spencer keeper by Max Grossmith to reduce the arrears.

With halftime looming it was time for Loxton to make his presence felt. Loxton opened his account, slamming home from the top of the D to send the teams in level at the interval.

Ill-discipline had cost Banbury dear in some of their recent games but it was the visitors who allowed their frustration to bubble over into a series of sin-bins reducing their on-field numbers. But Banbury still squandered chances and it looked as if they would miss out until captain Steve O’Connor’s run and pass found Grossmith who doubled his tally to put the home side back on track.

Loxton then showed the form which made him so successful last year scoring twice in the last five minutes, completing his hat-trick and send Banbury into the close season on a positive note.

Brooker revealed afterwards that coach Matt Bull would be stepping down from his role at the club. So Banbury will be looking for a new coach to guide them back up at the first attempt next season.

He said: “Five years ago Matt Bull returned to the club as coach when the side was in danger of being relegated from division two. He kept us up that year and led us on and off the pitch to our promotion two years ago.

“Matt has now decided to step down and concentrate on his role as chairman and we will sadly miss his leadership when we fight for promotion next season. This last performance shows what we are capable of and that kind of form can see us return to the top tier at the first time of asking.”