Johnson’s winner gives Puritans the perfect start

Banbury United match-winner Ricky Johnson
Banbury United match-winner Ricky Johnson

A solitary goal from Ricky Johnson saw Banbury United make the best possible start to life back in the premier division of the Evo-Stik Southern League.

The Puritans returned with three fully deserved points from Basingstoke Town where Johnson bagged the winner just past the hour mark. United also hit the woodwork twice on an impressive return to the top tier.

United started brightly and Mark Bell’s cross just evaded Johnson and Mark Janes. Moments later new signing Janes shot just wide from outside the box before Johnson shot into the side-netting from the edge of the six yard box.

United had an effort chalked off for offside when David Lynn’s free-kick found Johnson at the far post, he headed past keeper Alex Tokarczyk but the assistant referee’s flag was already up.

Shortly afterwards another good move ended with Jack Self’s shot from the edge of the area being saved by Tokarczyk. Basingstoke improved towards the end of the first half and defender Matt Partridge went on a storming run through the centre before firing just over the bar from 25 yards.

United continued to have much the better of the game after the restart and Janes tested Tokarczyk from a narrow angle with the keeper gathering the ball at the second attempt.

Tamille Roache hit the side-netting but in the 61st minute United took a deserved lead when good play from Zac McEachran saw him release Johnson who made no mistake from 12 yards.

Moments later United went close to doubling their advantage when McEachran’s shot from 20 yards smashed against the bar. McEachran also fired just over the bar from the edge of the area as United continued to threaten.

Skipper Andy Gunn cleared from a late threat but United went close again in the final minute when Duran Martin’s free-kick thundered against the bar.