Hero Howards at the double to earn Puritans vital three points

Banbury United's  Kynan Isaac takes on Dunstable Town's Garry Jones at Spencer Stadium
Banbury United's Kynan Isaac takes on Dunstable Town's Garry Jones at Spencer Stadium

Leam Howards came off the bench to bag both goals as Banbury United picked up their first Evo-Stik Southern League victory of 2015.

The Puritans beat Dunstable Town 2-1 in Saturday’s premier division clash at Spencer Stadium where all three goals came in the closing stages. It was United’s first double of the season and could not have come at a better time as they ended a five-match losing sequence.

Howards struck twice in four minutes before substitute Tony Burnett pulled a goal back to set up tense final few minutes for Paul Davis’s side.

The experienced Ade Talabi was available again and came straight into starting line-up, as did new signing Hicham Abdellah. But Joel Meade was ruled out so Jack Westbrook partnered skipper Tom Ryan in central defence.

United were slowly out of the blocks and survived an early scare when Chris Marsh thumped the upright and Charlie Henry’s effort from the rebound was deflected for a corner from which Shane Beckett lifted the ball over the bar.

Jordan Green went close when he ran at the Dunstable defence before firing past the post from the edge of the box and Declan Hartigan could only find the side-netting from Abdellah’s cross.

Green went close when he won possession and exchanged passes with Talabi before racing into the box and testing Charlie May who was equal to his low drive. United began to get into the contest, building in confidence, and enjoyed more possession as the half progressed.

But Elliott Bailey was only inches away from connecting with Jamale McKenzie-Lowe’s driven cross before Hartigan volleyed wide just before the break after Dunstable failed to clear Marvin Martin’s free-kick.

Chances were few and far between after the restart before substitute Gary Wharton fired over and moments later he raced clear before shooting at Leigh Bedwell. But it took a vital goal-line clearance from Jacob Walcott to keep out a shot from Marsh after he raced into the area and rounded Bedwell.

Wharton had another opportunity but blazed over from a good position before Howards made an instant impact in the 75th minute, racing into the box after getting on the end of Green’s searching pass and beating May with a low drive through the keeper’s legs.

And Howards doubled United’s advantage three minutes later when he headed home Abdellah’s pin-point cross from six yards. Burnett reduced the arrears in the 84th minute, stabbing the ball home from close range after Wharton headed the ball back into the six yard box from Henry’s delivery.

Bedwell saved with his legs from David Lynn as the Puritans defended their slender lead before the final whistle went to signal joyous scenes on and off the pitch.