FA Trophy: Crusaders end Puritans’ hopes in replay

Banbury United's Zac McEachran tackles Hungerford Town's Riche Whittingham. Photo: Phillip Cannings Newbury Weekly News
Banbury United's Zac McEachran tackles Hungerford Town's Riche Whittingham. Photo: Phillip Cannings Newbury Weekly News

Goals from Matt Day, Mark Draycott and Mark Jones knocked Banbury United out of the FA Trophy as Hungerford Town won 3-0 in Tuesday’s first qualifying round replay at Spencer Stadium.

The Evo-Stik Southern League premier division outfit proved too strong for the Puritans over the two games as Mike Ford’s depleted side were unable to reproduce Saturday’s excellent performance. The Crusaders were good value for their victory and have yet to lose to the Puritans.

Ford predicted a harder game for his side and so it proved as the visitors took the early initiative, got their noses in front and never looked back, going on to dominate for long periods in the second half.

With United’s increasing injury-list, Daniel Moreno and Jacob Blackstock were given their full debuts while Joel Meade made a surprise first appearance of the season on the bench.

Hungerford started confidently and Nat Jarvis headed straight at Jack Harding before firing wide from the edge of the box. Scott Rees fired well over after being set-up by substitute Draycott who then tested Harding with a low drive from the edge of the area.

In between, Nicholas Kalakoutos missed the best chance when he raced clear before shooting weakly at Paul Strudley. But Harding had to be alert to deny Day after James Clark’s corner found its way into the six-yard box.

United gradually found their feet and Moreno showed all his trickery to create an opening in the box but he didn’t manage to test Strudley and his penalty appeals also went unanswered.

Harding turned a low drive from Draycott around the post following a quick break and from Clark’s ensuing corner Day headed over the bar.

But Hungerford broke the deadlock in the 36th minute when United failed to fully clear Clark’s corner and Draycott exchanged passes with Stefan Brown on the edge of the box being laying the ball back for Day to thump it into the top corner from fully 25 yards.

The prolific Draycott doubled Hungerford’s advantage three minutes before the break with his customary goal against the Puritans. Day found Jarvis who held the ball up before finding the overlapping Rhys Tyler and Draycott turned well to hammer his low cross past Harding from 15 yards.

Ford threw on Zac McEachran and Darius Browne for the second half but Hungerford picked up from where they left off and it took a timely tackle from Jon Steedman to thwart Draycott as he burst into the box.

With the in-form McEachran on the pitch United began to create some openings and finally ask questions of the Hungerford defence. Browne soon made his mark cutting in from the right flank to test Strudley with a low drive which the keeper saved at his near post while Leam Howards just failed to find the target from Blackstock’s low cross as United tried to get back into the tie.

But Hungerford were quick to snuff out any danger and began to pass the ball with ease as the half progressed, looking every bit the premier division side.

McEachran released Callum White whose low drive was deflected wide of the near post but that was as good as it got for United. The Crusaders added a third goal in the 90th minute when Draycott’s hard work saw the ball for nicely for substitute Mark Jones who drilled the ball past Harding.