Evangelinos bags three more points for the Puritans

Ricky Johnson helped the Puritans to their first clean sheet and was unfortunate not to get on the score sheet
Ricky Johnson helped the Puritans to their first clean sheet and was unfortunate not to get on the score sheet

A solitary goal from Nic Evangelinos earned Banbury United back-to-back victories in Tuesday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash with Burnham.

Mike Ford’s side picked up three more Division One West & South points in the 1-0 victory and kept their first clean sheet into the bargain. It could, and should, have been more comfortable with United having three more efforts ruled out.

In a scrappy opening period neither side managed to create much in the way of chances. Tre Mitford looked lively for Burnham but the visitors were restricted to speculative efforts while most of United’s attacking forays came down the right flank from the overlapping Callum White.

Dominic Rhone was lucky to escape with just a yellow card when he pulled down Leam Howards after he was put in the clear by Zac McEachran’s defence-splitting pass. Moments later Howards turned the ball in from close range after Zaki Qualah had parried Ricky Johnson’s header but United’s top scorer was ruled offside.

United improved as the half progressed and their best move saw Evangelinos release White who shot wide of the far post with the unmarked Howards screaming out for a low cross. But Howards soon had his opportunity when he raced on to Mark Bell’s pass but his first touch was too heavy and Qualah was able to gather the ball.

Bell began to have more of an influence on proceedings, linking up well with Howards and he turned and twisted on the edge of the box before shooting wide.

United broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart. Burnham failed to deal with Bell’s cross and McEachran chested the ball down for Evangelinos to turn and find the bottom corner of the net from 15 yards.

McEachran began to pose problems with his trickery on the ball as United looked a far more confident outfit. Howards went close to doubling United’s lead when he cut inside Callum Whitty but was denied by a last-gasp tackle from Haydon Clack.

But it took a decent save from Jack Harding to keep out a free-kick from Rhone as the visitors finally began to pose a threat. Moments later Harding had to be alert to save from Carl Davies with the ball coming through a crowded box.

In between, United had another effort ruled out for offside against Howards after he got the final touch on a low drive from Evangelinos which looked to be heading into the far corner of the net.

Burnham began to offer more in the latter stages but United always looked comfortable at the back, with Ricky Johnson commanding, and were rarely troubled while looking as though they could get that vital second goal on the break. And Johnson had what appeared to be a perfectly good goal chalked off when he outjumped Qualah to head home Bell’s corner only to be pulled up for a foul on the keeper.

Substitute Darius Browne squandered a late opportunity to make the game safe when he raced clear before being tackled by Whitty on the edge of the box. Bell then cut inside Rhone and James Walters before shooting across the goal from a tight angle but in the end that one goal from Evangelinos was enough.