Every game is big now as Puritans get set for showdown with Spartans

Andy Whing knows every game is “a big game” for Banbury United as they bid to pull themselves away from danger at the wrong end of the Vanarama National League North.
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The Puritans suffered a damaging 2-1 home defeat to rock-bottom AFC Telford United last weekend but bounced back on Tuesday night as they held fifth-placed Darlington to a 0-0 draw at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

But United are now without a win in their last 10 league outings and, as a result, have been drawn into the scrap to avoid relegation.

They currently sit just four points clear of the drop zone, although they do have games in hand on teams around them.

Goalmouth action from Banbury United's goalless draw with Darlington on Tuesday night. Picture by Julie HawkinsGoalmouth action from Banbury United's goalless draw with Darlington on Tuesday night. Picture by Julie Hawkins
Goalmouth action from Banbury United's goalless draw with Darlington on Tuesday night. Picture by Julie Hawkins

However, they face a huge game on Saturday as they entertain Blyth Spartans who breathed new life into their own fight for survival with a stunning 3-0 victory at leaders AFC Fylde on Tuesday night.

Whing felt Tuesday’s stalemate with play-off contenders Darlington immediately restored some belief in his players after the “low point” of the defeat to Telford.

And he said: “It’s a big game but they all are now.

“The pleasing thing from Tuesday is that we used the squad well.

“The injuries are still hurting us and even after the Darlington game I saw two or three of them trudging off to the treatment room.

“But it’s a big game. We will try to get those bodies back because we have another one at Southport next Tuesday as well.

“We have really tough games in front of us but if we keep playing like we did on Tuesday and we keep the majority of the squad fit then we will be okay.

“I think the game on Tuesday restored a bit of confidence and belief in the group. It showed if we produce the right performance, then we will get the results.”

The Puritans boss was delighted with the response of his players in midweek as they hit back following that shock loss to Telford.

And he felt his team’s performance was worthy of more than the one point they picked up.

“I was very pleased, I thought we were outstanding,” Whing said as he reflected on the draw with Darlington.

“Our intensity, our effort, everything about our performance was brilliant and we thoroughly deserved three points but things aren’t really falling for us in front of goal at the moment.

“Their goalkeeper has pulled off a couple of really good saves.

“But, after how low things were after Saturday and it was a really low point, to bounce back from that and put in a fantastic performance was a testament to the lads.

“We freshened things up again because we had a couple of injuries from Saturday and we had a couple of big players on the bench who couldn’t come on.

“But, other than that, I thought we were really good.”