Brooker looks for Banbury to get back on right track
Banbury slumped to eighth in the South Premier Hockey League following a 5-0 defeat at Oxford University.
There are only three points between eighth and fourth but Banbury’s goal difference deficit does them no favours in such a tight situation. The visit of London Edwardians gives Banbury the chance to redeem themselves as a win would put them above their opponents in the last game before the mid-season break.
With a scrappy first half marred by a horrific facial injury to midfielder Jaz Singh, who ended the afternoon in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Banbury managed to match the University side and go into the break on level terms with both sets of forwards missing chances and drawing great work from the respective keepers.
But, missing the stability that Singh has brought to the midfield and a defence missing two regulars, home side pressure began to create second half chances, winning a series of short corners two of which were deflected past Banbury keeper Steve Hicks by Nick Leach.
Banbury were then sliced open down their right side for Aaron Goss to finish a sparkling move and increase the University’s lead.
Occasional flashes of their true form saw Banbury create chances but none of these were converted as the home keeper had an outstanding afternoon and the visitors were again hit by ill-discipline and a series of yellow and green card dismissals that further weakened tired legs already strained by the absence of Singh.
At 3-0 down and only 15 minutes remaining, Banbury tried a last throw of dice to go to three defenders and play with an extra forward to try to grab an unlikely point or reduce the deficit. But the chances still whistled across the goal or drew terrific saves from the home keeper and the University made the most of breakaway chances as yet another penalty corner from Alex Copestake was deflected past Hicks before Johann Perera rounded it off in the dying moments.
Brooker said: “We have had a bad afternoon for our league position but the sickening injury to Jaz [Singh] puts that all in perspective. He is tough player and will return in the new year.
“We must now concentrate on our last game, depending on other results, a win this week could see us jump three places back into contention. Our confidence was knocked on Saturday but we will come back renewed and try to get back on course.”