Double-header as Banbury look to make more progress
Manager Steve Brooker will be looking for his Banbury side to make it back-to-back wins on Saturday.
Banbury picked up their second South Premier Hockey League victory at Milton Keynes at the weekend and now entertain Tunbridge Wells, looking for three more division one points.
The following day, Brooker’s boys take on Milton Keynes again, this time in the HA National Cup.
Banbury won 2-1 at Milton Keynes on Saturday as they bounced back from last week’s setback against Indian Gymkhana. Banbury were the only team to beat Tunbridge Wells in their promotion run and will go into Saturday’s fixture in a positive mood.
Banbury were rocked back after conceding a penalty corner in the first 30 seconds at Milton Keynes which wasn’t converted. The welcome return of Steve O’Connor in midfield helped the visitors to restore their rhythm and they soon broke the deadlock when a right-sided move found Adrian Simons in the D to win a penalty corner which was slammed home by Josh Nunneley.
A closely fought, at times physical, struggle ensued with Banbury taking the upper hand and Tyson Nunneley working tirelessly down the right to create another chance for Simons who blazed a shot over the bar as O’Connor waited in front of an open goal. More chances were created and skipper Barney Williams was unlucky to deflect Richard Foreman’s cross just wide so the score stayed at a single goal difference at halftime.
O’Connor finished another right sided move to extend Banbury’s lead early in the second half. Banbury created more chances, Joe Allen thundered a shot wide and Simons brought a superb save out of the home keeper.
But the visitors began to lose their way and Milton Keynes came strongly back into the game. Keeper Fergus Dunleavy in needed to be on top form to deny two one-on-one openings before the pressure finally gave the home side a penalty corner. The initial shot was saved but a scramble to clear the ball was unsuccessful with Callum Kumar-Shaw finding the net to reduce the arrears.
In a nervous last five minutes Banbury hung on to keep the points and revive their promotion bid.
Brooker said: “A great come back which shows the unfulfilled promise of last week and it was really good to see Steve O’Connor back in the side at his very best to help win three points from one of our target games.
“This week we welcome Tunbridge Wells, we were the only team to beat them twice last season and have high hopes for a repeat performance to secure our lofty position in the league.”