Bell hits hat-trick as Puritans thump Bashley

Banbury United's hat-trick hero Mark Bell takes on Bashley's Charlie Higgins at Spencer Stadium
Banbury United's hat-trick hero Mark Bell takes on Bashley's Charlie Higgins at Spencer Stadium

Mark Bell completed a hat-trick as Banbury United thumped Bashley 8-0 in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at Spencer Stadium.

The Puritans had the Division One South & West points in the bag before the interval as they hit five goals in a 20-minute spell. A hat-trick for Bell, Callum White’s first goal for the club and a superb strike from Duran Martin all but ended the game as a contest.

Substitute Zac McEachran, Louis Joyce and Nic Evangelinos, in his final game, hit three more goals in the second half to send basement boys Bashley crashing to their ninth straight defeat.

With skipper Andy Gunn suspended, Ricky Johnson started in central defence alongside new signing Charlie Wise while the returning Ollie Stanbridge came straight into midfield. It proved an easy introduction to Southern League football for Wise while Stanbridge fitted comfortably back into his old role.

United began brightly but Jack Harding was nearly caught out by a speculative effort from David Gerrard who spotted the keeper off his line. Kieran Stephens also tested Harding with a low drive as the visitors posed the early threat before Leam Howards created United’s first opening when he quickly turned away from Lee Phibbs before firing over from 25 yards.

Bashley enjoyed plenty of possession and their confidence grew as the half progressed but that all changed in the 25th minute when United made the breakthrough with White beginning and ending the move. The overlapping fullback broke into the box and crossed for Bell, his shot was parried by Nic Jones who denied Howards from the rebound but White poked the ball in at the far post.

Bell almost doubled United’s advantage moments later when his low drive from 20 yards beat Jones but came back off the upright. But Bell increased United’s lead in the 31st minute when he was picked out by Joyce on the edge of the box before turning well to beat Jones.

Bell showed a touch of class five minutes later when he curled a superb free-kick into the top corner of the net from 25 yards. At the other end Harding was called into action to keep out Stephens’ near post effort just before the break.

But Bell had the freedom of the park and he duly completed his hat-trick a minute before the interval when he had all the time in the world to beat Jones with a deflected shot from the edge of the area. Martin scored the goal of the game on the stroke of halftime, Bell turning provider this time to lay the ball back for the young midfielder to rifle the ball into the top corner from 20 yards.

Dammy Bada should have done better shortly after the restart when he took advantage of a mix-up between Harding and Jon Steedman before seeing his scuffed shot cleared. But United increased their lead in the 54th minute when Bell set up McEachran who beat Jones from ten yards.

Four minutes later a neat move ended with Evangelinos crossing for the unmarked Joyce to net from close range. United produced some entertaining football and created further chances, Joyce evaded Jones before lifting the ball wide of the far post and Johnson headed over.

An eighth goal finally arrived in the 80th minute when Evangelinos raced on to a great pass from Martin before neatly lifting the ball over the stranded Jones.