Banbury rock the leaders as they complete turnaround

If Banbury go back up at the first attempt, they will look upon Saturday's thrilling victory at Tunbridge Wells as a pivotal moment.
Max Grossmith hit Banbury's fifth goal at Tunbridge WellsMax Grossmith hit Banbury's fifth goal at Tunbridge Wells
Max Grossmith hit Banbury's fifth goal at Tunbridge Wells

Trailing 3-0 in the South Premier Hockey League clash, Banbury turned it around to run out 5-3 winners at the leaders, only their second defeat of the campaign.

With two games to go, the victory keeps Banbury in second place ahead of this weekend’s clash with lowly Bournemouth.

It was a close call whether the game could go ahead and it looked as if Banbury had made the wrong call as they got off to a disastrous start.

Only five minutes into the game, Banbury’s defence of a penalty corner deflected on to Simon Boardman’s knee to concede a penalty stroke. But in his last game of the season before going to play in Australia, goalkeeper Fergus Dunleavy saved the ensuing flick.

Despite the let-off, Banbury simply could not cope with the conditions and conceded with Ben Allberry putting the home side ahead. A fluke mistake by Kieran Symons saw his aerial pass skew away and set up Ben Brandt to double the lead.

With Banbury rocking, another uncharacteristic midfield error set up Simon Hare to make it 3-0. Banbury reduced the arrears when Josh Nunneley’s long aerial pass found Boardman who was brought down by the keeper to concede another penalty stroke, duly put away by Symons.

With Banbury back on the front foot, Joe Allan rediscovered the scoring habit, rounding the keeper to score.

After the restart, Allan converted George Brooker’s pass to equalise and Brooker’s wayward backhand shot was deflected by a defender past the keeper. Moments later the ball split as it was struck by Steve O’Connor who saw a small part of it end up in the net.

That was ruled out but Max Grosmith doubled Banbury’s lead to claim an unlikely but well deserved victory.

Manager Steve Brooker said: “With second place Guildford having their game postponed and still due to visit leaders Tunbridge, we are well placed with work to do. Our fate is back in our own hands this week with the home fixture against struggling Bournemouth.”