Browne inspires Puritans to make it five on the spin

Banbury United's Leam Howards rounds Wimborne Town keeper Jason Harvell but his effort was ruled out for offside
Banbury United's Leam Howards rounds Wimborne Town keeper Jason Harvell but his effort was ruled out for offside

Substitute Darius Browne was the game changer as Banbury United made it five Evo-Stik Southern League wins on the spin.

Browne scored the opener and made the second goal for captain Andy Gunn as the Puritans beat Wimborne Town 2-0 in Saturday’s Division One South & West clash at Spencer Stadium. But they were made to work hard for all three points by the improving Dorset outfit with both goals coming late on.

United started brightly with Duran Martin, Mark Bell and Zac McEachran all having early efforts blocked. A neat move ended with Bell firing over while McEachran exchanged passes with Leam Howards before missing the target as United gradually began to take a hold of proceedings.

Bell went close when he put Callum White away and was quickest to react when Wimborne failed to clear but again his shot was off target. In between, Carl Preston fired into the side-netting after he raced on to a searching pass from Ian Oliver.

Ricky Johnson headed straight at Jason Harvell from Bell’s cross as United turned the screw. Wimborne survived a scramble when more excellent approach play from White picked out Johnson but Harvell saved at his feet, Martin thumped the rebound against the bar and McEachran’s follow-up was blocked by the overworked visitors’ defence.

United were just missing the final touch but it took another decent save from Harvell to deny Howards from a tight angle after he beat Declan Randall with ease.

Wimborne spent most of the first period repelling United’s attacks but carved out a couple of half chances before the break, Preston fired wide and Franklyn Clarke shot over. That they reached the interval on level terms was due mainly to the impressive Ryan Johnson who cut out several dangerous crosses and made some timely interceptions.

United picked up from where they left off after the restart but Wimborne had a couple of openings, Preston wasted a good opportunity when he blazed over from a tight angle while Clarke forced Jack Harding into action.

In between, Howards set up Bell who was denied by Harvell before Johnson did well to create an opening but his shot flashed past the far post while Martin curled one over from the edge of the box as United looked to make the breakthrough.

But it took a smart save from Harding to thwart Preston after he caught United napping from Wayne Crutcher’s quickly taken free-kick. And it was the visitors who began to look the more likely to break the deadlock as the half progressed.

Martin made an excellent run but Harvell was equal to his effort from the edge of the box before another forward surge from the midfielder saw United break the deadlock in the 75th minute. Martin found Johnson whose shot was saved by Harvell but Browne swept home the rebound from close range.

Browne almost turned provider when he picked out Howards with a delightful pass only for last season’s top scorer to lift the ball over the bar. But Browne provided United’s crucial second goal in the 82nd minute when he showed great skill to beat Oliver before crossing for Gunn to head home from six yards.