New set-up in bid for a quick return

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Banbury return to life in division two of the South Premier Hockey League with a home fixture against West Hampstead on Saturday.

Without a coach but with an innovative new approach to have two captains in George Brooker and Barney Williams, Banbury have enjoyed a successful pre-season programme.

We have a strong squad with young players pushing for places and the best pre-season for many years

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Pre-season ended with a 5-3 victory over Wootton under Edge with a Simon Boardman hat-trick plus goals for Max Grosmith and Richard Foreman.

After losing to Peterborough in August, Banbury came back to beat Coventry and Warwick in a triangular tournament before storming to victory in the Oxon Hockey Cup.

In the cup competition, Banbury produced good performances against a strong Oxford City side, Witney and a surprisingly weak Oxford Hawks who they thumped 5-0. Banbury then travelled to Stourport the next day to continue their preparations over a tough weekend and came away with a creditable 2-2 draw.

Aussie Kieran Symonds returns after a successful season back home during the summer in his native country and new goal keeper Fergus Dunleavy has performed well in the build-up to the South Premier Hockey League campaign.

Manager Steve Brooker said: “We look forward to the challenges of a new season with real optimism. We have a strong squad with young players pushing for places and the best pre-season for many years, roll on West Hampstead, we are ready.”

Banbury face a tough test in Saturday’s opener as they entertain West Hampstead who just missed out on promotion on goal difference last season.

Banbury II beat West Hampstead II 2-1 in their opening Middx, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Regional Two fixture.

Ian Reynolds and new signing Joe Allen got the goals for Banbury.

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