Manager Andy Whing proud of his players as Barrow prove too strong for Banbury United in FA Cup first round

League Two side end Puritans' unbeaten start to the season with 4-0 victory in front of capacity crowd and television cameras

Banbury United's Chris Wreh had attracted the attentions of the national press this week as his father played for 1998 FA Cup champions Arsenal (FILE PICTURE BY JULIE HAWKINS)
Banbury United's Chris Wreh had attracted the attentions of the national press this week as his father played for 1998 FA Cup champions Arsenal (FILE PICTURE BY JULIE HAWKINS)

It just wasn't to be Banbury United' s day as they went down 4-0 to Barrow in the biggest game in their history. In front of a sell-out 2,400 crowd - and thousands more watching live on ITV4 - it was still a very proud day for the club as they were bidding to reach the second round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time ever.

Playing the Sky Bet League Two side 57 places above them, the Puritans - on a 19-game unbeaten run since the start of the season - were hoping to go one better than last year’s exit to Canvey Island at the same stage.

Due to covid restrictions that game was played without fans so manager Andy Whing's men were hoping their tremendous local support at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium would make all the difference this time.

Before that the wait to make the first round proper had been nearly 50 years, since 1973 when Banbury lost out to Northampton Town in a replay.

It was an especially big day for the Puritans' top scorer this season Chris Wreh, who was looking to add to his eight-goal tally.

He had attracted the attentions of the national press this week as his father Christopher Wreh played for Arsenal from 1997-2000. He scored the winning goal in their 1998 FA Cup semi-final with Wolves to step out at Wembley in the final, where they beat Newcastle to achieve the league and cup double.

But Barrow's strong defence meant Wreh junior wasn't on the scoresheet today.

About 150 Barrow fans had made the long journey south and saw their side go ahead within eight minutes. A tight shot across goal from Josh Gordon beat goalkeeper Ben Taylor from the narrowest of angles for his fourth goal of the season.

Taylor was between the sticks in place of first choice keeper Jack Harding, who is still recovering after dislocating his elbow in a game last month.

The underdogs finished the first half the better side, working hard and putting in plenty of effort without creating any clear cut chances. At the other end Taylor had been the busier if the two keepers.

Very much still in the game at 1-0 down, Banbury needed to turn things around in the second half after a strong first 45 by Barrow.

They started the second half with all the pressure, but needed Taylor to keep them in it with a great save from a Barrow breakaway in the 51st minute.

Then against the run of play Offrande Zanzala made it 2-0. The bounce just eluded Kelvin Langmead and the goal took wind out of Banbury's sails in 55th minute.

A penalty by Ollie Banks after Zanzala was brought down by Taylor made it 3-0 in the 80th minute. And Mark Cooper’s side avoided any potential banana skin with a goal by Jordan Stevens in the 83rd, completing a comfortable win for visitors.

Barrow’s quality meant it was a tough, but still great, day for Banbury, who gave everything, but it ended their FA Cup run and unbeaten start to the season.

Having held firm at the back and been clinical up front, the assured display by the Bluebirds puts them into the hat for the second round draw.

Speaking to ITV after the game, a disappointed Whing said of the 4-0 scoreline: "It's very harsh. We gifted them three, even the first goal, but they have been clinical, that's all it was. The second goal was the killer, a mistake between the goalkeeper and the centre half.

"We were a bit nervous when they scored, but after half an hour I thought we were in the ascendancy. The second goal was a bit of a sucker punch really, it wasn't 4-0 to be fair.

"I'm absolutely proud of the players. We have lost for the first time this season which is going to hurt, but it's a remarkable achievement.

"Obviously there are games where teams have got battered and we didn't get battered. I thought we were decent and just mistakes killed us."

And now he said Banbury are determined to build on what they have achieved and go on and win the league and promotion.