Johnson comes off the bench to earn Puritans a point

Banbury United's Denilson Silva loses out to Nuneaton Borough's Declan Towers during Tuesday's game
Banbury United's Denilson Silva loses out to Nuneaton Borough's Declan Towers during Tuesday's game

Ricky Johnson came off the bench to earn Banbury United a point in the 1-1 draw with Nuneaton Borough in Tuesday's BetVictor Southern League clash.

Luke Benbow gave Borough the early lead in Tuesday's Premier Division Central game at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium but Johnson headed home the late equaliser.

In a lively opening, both sides enjoyed plenty of possession but without creating too much from open play in the final third. The first chance came from a set-piece when Stuart Beavon glanced his near post header past the opposite upright from Callum Powell's free-kick.

And it was from another set-piece that Borough broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Ryan Edmunds' corner was headed down at the far post by Keith Lowe for Benbow to turn in from close range.

Boosted by the breakthrough, the visitors upped the tempo and Jack Harding was forced into action to deal with Powell's low drive. Harding then had to dive full length to tip Benbow's speculative 30-yard free-kick around the post.

United struggled to impose themselves in the final third where too many moves broke down. The half continued at a frantic pace with Borough looking dangerous and Benbow's swivelled effort went wide of the far post.

United's best chance came late on when Anderson Cayola won possession on the edge of the area and found Denilson Silva in the six-yard box but he took too long to get his shot away and the opportunity was lost.

Powell almost doubled Borough's advantage from a quick break when he latched on to Benbow's neat back-heel, burst into the box but saw his curling effort go just wide of the far post.

Manager Mike Ford threw on John Mills in place of Silva for the restart to give United more of a goal threat.

United went close when Giorgio Rasulo's free-kick was glanced goalwards by Claudio Dias but his header was deflected wide of the far post. At the other end another Benbow free-kick was deflected wide and Rhys Sharpe went even closer when his curling free-kick struck the bar with Harding getting the faintest of touches.

The industrious Powell went close again, racing on to Benbow's knock down before seeing his goal bound volley deflected wide.

Johnson replaced Anderson on the hour mark as Ford looked for a way back into the contest but Borough still the most likely to get the next goal and the lively Devon Kelly-Evans broke quickly before firing wide from the edge of the box.

United were much improved in the second half but Borough went close again when Sharpe's long throw-in was flicked on by Lowe and Powell headed straight at Harding when he should have done better.

United were still in it and they pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages but it took another reflex save from Harding to keep out Beavon's snap-shot on the turn following another surging run from Powell.

But United equalised in the 80th minute when the two substitutes combined to produce it. Mills did superbly to hold the ball up, turn and deliver the perfect cross for Johnson to head into the top corner of the net from six yards.

Far from settling for a point, both sides went for a late winner and the game remained open with end-to-end action. The winner failed to materialise and it was United who were the happier with the solitary point.