Banbury United eight points clear at top ahead of Alvechurch and Redditch United New Year games

'Not in a million years!' had manager Andy Whing expected to have 57 points from 66 after Christmas with eight-point gap over second-placed Coalville Town

By Zoe Ashton
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:34 am
Man of the match Ben Acquaye  PICTURES BY JULIE HAWKINS
Man of the match Ben Acquaye PICTURES BY JULIE HAWKINS

PICTURES BY JULIE HAWKINS

‘Not in a million years’ had manager Andy Whing expected to be top of the league by eight points after Christmas - but he’ll take it!

So it’s a very happy new year for Banbury United going into Saturday’s game at Alvechurch.

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Banbury United attracted a bumper crowd of 1,221 for their game with Stratford Town

Watched by a festive crowd of 1,221 on Monday, Whing’s side beat Stratford Town 1-0 in a tough encounter, thanks to a Jack Stevens penalty just before half time, after Ben Acquaye was upended.

And Whing couldn’t be happier: “I don’t think I expected to be where we are - eight points clear at the top after 22 games, not in a million years would we have thought that!” he told Puritans Radio following the team’s fifth straight victory after losing their unbeaten Southern League Premier Central Division record to St Ives Town at the start of the month.

“To have 57 points from 66 is an absolutely unbelievable amount of points in a short space of time.

“We have a really good group of players and recruitment has been bang on.

Ben Acquaye is upended to earn Banbury United a penalty

“And I still think we could play better and have more spells in games where we dominate, but overall the players have been absolutely tremendous.”

Even with their success so far, Whing stresses they won’t take anything for granted and just concrentate on the next game.

“It wasn’t our best performance today, but it was an outstanding turnout of 1,221,” he added. “The lads have been fantastic to be where we are.

“There’s no hiding the fact I want to get to the next level and the club want that as well.

Jack Stevens scored Banbury's penalty against Stratford Town

“It’s going to be tough and we need crowds like today to get behind us - come out and enjoy your community football club. I’m really happy.”

And for the rest of the campaign Whing is assured of the services of Jack Stevens and Jay Williams, who have both just signed contracts to the end of the season, after joining the club in October.

Stevens, 21 has made 20 appearances, scoring seven goals in 14 league games.

He said: “I’m delighted to sign a deal here.

“It’s a really talented squad heading in the right direction and it’s a place where I can see myself improving as a player and a person, and off the pitch every member of staff has been fantastic so it was an easy decision for me.”

And defender Williams is also pleased to have put pen to paper: “This is a great club heading in the right direction from the fans, to the staff and everyone behind the scenes.

“I feel like this is a special group and I’ve enjoyed my time a lot so far,” he said.

“So to continue to be a part of this is something I couldn’t turn down.”

Now the team’s attentions turn to their New Year’s Day trip to fifth-placed Alvechurch, who lost 1-0 in their festive game at lowly Redditch United, who are Banbury’s hosts on Bank Holiday Monday (January 3).