Johnson completes hat-trick as Puritans turn it on

Banbury United hat--trick hero Ricky Johnson closes down Mangotsfield United captain Lewis Hogg NNL-151010-182016002
Banbury United hat--trick hero Ricky Johnson closes down Mangotsfield United captain Lewis Hogg NNL-151010-182016002

Ricky Johnson completed a first-half hat-trick as Banbury United beat Mangotsfield United 3-1 in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at Spencer Stadium

The Puritans had all three points in the bag by halftime after racing into a 3-0 lead in the Division One South & West fixture in front of a bumper crowd of 463 on Non-League Day. Although Ryan Batten pulled a goal back shortly after the restart United were never in any real danger of squandering their advantage.

Mark Bell was ruled out through injury so new signing George Nash came straight into the starting line-up, the former Worcester City man lining up in a midfield already missing the suspended Ollie Stanbridge.

After a scrappy opening United created some early chances, Andy Gunn headed wide from a corner, Zac McEachran had a goalbound shot blocked and Duran Martin tested Kieran Preston with a long range effort.

Karim Rendall went close for Mangotsfield before United broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Howards did well on the left before crossing low for Johnson to convert from close range.

Lewis Powell went close to an equaliser when he headed wide but, boosted by the breakthrough, United looked to double their advantage with McEachran at the heart of their best moves. Johnson seemed to be pulled back by Batten and could only shoot straight at Preston when it could so easily have been a penalty.

Elliott Gibbons headed over at the other end but United doubled their advantage in the 41st minute when Johnson raced on to McEachran’s searching pass to beat Preston from ten yards despite the keeper getting a hand to the ball. And Johnson completed his hat-trick on the stroke of halftime, converting a low cross from Darius Browne after more good work from McEachran.

Jon Steedman had an effort ruled out for offside after the restart but Mangotsfield reduced the arrears in the 53rd minute when United failed to deal with Lewis Hogg’s free-kick and the ball fell kindly for Batten to beat Jack Harding with a low drive through a crowded box.

Harding had a let-off when he spilled a harmless drive from Powell and was relieved to see the ball come back off the upright and into his arms.

A goalmouth scramble ended with substitute Louis Joyce hitting the post late on and Browne failed to force home the rebound but United were already assured of the points.