Banbury United manager Andy Whing so proud of young cup team against Rushall Olympic
Rushden & Diamonds are this weekend's league visitors
PICTURES BY JULIE HAWKINS
Saturday’s 2-0 win over Stourbridge at Amblecote took Banbury United an incredible 16 points clear at the top of the Southern League Premier Central Division after 25 games.
Despite missing five first-choice squad members, Andy Whing’s side put in another hard-working performance with their best defensive showing so far - making it 17 clean sheets this season.
An own goal by their tenth-placed hosts put Banbury ahead after almost half an hour and soon after the interval Lewis Johnson made it 2-0.
They are now at home for the next two weekends, hosting fifth-placed AFC Rushden & Diamonds and then Redditch United, who are just above the danger zone.
On Tuesday evening an 92nd-minute winner by Rushall Olympic denied the depleted Puritans a place in the Southern League Challenge Cup semi- finals, going out 3-2.
But manager Whing was full of praise for his very young side taking on fourth-placed Rushall’s first team.
“It was an outstanding performance and I’m gutted for them,” he said afterwards.
“I don’t think they deserved that, we were they better team in the first half, but probably Rushall’s more experience in the last 15-20 minutes of the game showed really.
“I’m proud of every single one of them and they should all be proud of themselves. They represented the football club unbelievably well.
“It just shows this football club is going places, when we had ten of our first team players missing today.
“We had two fit defenders so we didn’t want to risk them. There’s one or two who will hopefully come back on the weekend.
“We couldn’t take any risks tonight. We could easily have said we hadn’t got enough players, but that’s not us at all.
“All in all it’s a fantastic night for us in terms of giving players minutes that were needed and young players as well.”
And Whing said it was great to see Jack Harding back in goal, returning from his elbow injury in October.
Morgan Roberts had given Banbury the lead after half an hour, from a Giorgio Rasulo pass.
Then three goals in a ten minute spell just after the hour saw Rushall draw level, Victor Sodeinde make it 2-1 from a penalty and then the visitors equalised again.
With both teams pressing Rushall took the tie 3-2.
Central defender James Golding, 17, had joined the Puritans this week for work experience from Oxford United, where he has been a scholar since summer 2020 after spending eight years in the academy system at AFC Wimbledon.
Midfielder Jed Abbey, 19, has also signed on loan from AFC Telford for the rest of the season. He came through Wolverhampton Wanderers age groups from the age of eight.