Banbury will have to rely on rivals slipping up to make it
Manager Steve Brooker says Banbury must win every one of their remaining games if they are to keep their lingering promotion hopes alive.
Banbury put up a fighting performance and only lost 4-3 at third-placed Bromley & Beckenham whose promotion is now secured in the South Premier Hockey League.
Brooker must hope that a five-minute lapse in concentration, during which Banbury conceded three easy goals, does not cost them. With both sides desperate for the points to secure their respective positions the game started at a furious pace with play swinging from end to end but it was the home side that took the lead through a penalty corner slotted home by Peter Dobson. Simon Boardman pounced on careless defender’s cross-field pass to leave him one-on-one with the keeper but he could not find the net.
But Boardman made amends in the next attack finishing in characteristic style from close range to level. There was very nearly a repeat of his superb individual goal against Indian Gymkhana when Waqas Akbar weaved his way through a packed home defence but this time the keeper thwarted his reverse stick-flick effort.
With Banbury pushing forward they again forced the ball into the home keeper’s net from close range on the stroke of halftime only to be denied by the umpire awarding a penalty stroke that the keeper saved to leave the sides level at the break.
Banbury restarted brightly winning a penalty corner after ten minutes which saw Jaz Singh thread a slipped pass home to take a lead. But then came the unaccountable lapses which saw Matt Grannell, Joe Mulholland and Stephen Roche all grabbed close range close range goals as the Banbury defence lost concentration.
Despite an excited home crowd urging their side on, the visitors regained their nerve and started attacking down both wings to create chances that drew a series of great saves from the keeper. But, eventually the pressure told and Akbar was able to finish from close range to reduce the deficit as the game closed.
Banbury entertain Oxford University on Saturday, their final home fixture at NOA, and Brooker said: “Promotion rivals London Edwardians also faltered only getting a draw this week so our hopes remain alive but we are now relying on them dropping more points while we must win all of the remaining games.
“We are back at home for the final time this season, seeking to improve on our first half performance against Oxford University.”