McEachran bags late winner for the Puritans

Zac McEachran grabbed the late winner for the Puritans
Zac McEachran grabbed the late winner for the Puritans

Zac McEachran struck the late winner as Banbury United made it back-to-back victories in the Evo-Stik Southern League.

The Puritans beat Slough Town 1-0 in Tuesday’s premier division at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

It was tough on Slough but a dream start to the campaign for the newly-promoted Puritans.

Slough started brightly with new signing Charlie Moone showing his undoubted quality. Jack Westbrook cleared the danger after Andy Gunn failed to cut out a cross while James Dobson headed wide from a Gavin James’ delivery.

The sun and Moone were causing problems for United early on. Moone was unable to capitalise when Westbrook failed to head clear with the setting sun in his eyes but the striker shot straight at Jack Harding.

Slough continued to carve out the openings and Simon Dunn fired over from the edge of the box. While his defenders struggled to deal with high balls into the box, Harding never missed one, commanding his area and picking crosses out of the air with ease.

United’s first chance came from Duran Martin’s floated free-kick with Gunn and Ricky Johnson almost getting some joy on the end of it before keeper Mark Scott punched clear.

Gunn went close but his near post header from Martin’s corner went well wide. United gradually found their feet and Martin exchanged passes with McEachran before firing wide from the edge of the box.

James had a half chance just before the break when he poked the ball wide from six yards after United failed to clear a corner. And James almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime, turning Callum White before firing just past the far post.

Shortly after the restart, Darius Browne gave way for Mark Bell as manager Mike Ford looked to make a difference. But Johnson and Felipe Barcelos were shut out of the game by Slough’s well organised defence.

And it was Slough who still looked the more likely to break the deadlock with McEachran having to clear off the line from Dobson’s inswinging corner.

Martin fired wide from the edge of the box as United were forced to try their luck from long range. At the other end Harding did well to foil James at the second attempt before Brad Hewitt headed just wide at the far post from Dobson’s deft cross.

Ford threw on Mark Janes for Barcelos late on, reverting to the front pairing that did so well in Saturday’s opener. But the first real save of the night came from Harding when he kept out Dunn’s 25 yard drive.

Warren Harris glanced a header just wide at the far post late on as both teams went for the winner and Ford made a final throw of the dice when he put on Leam Howards for Westbrook with Johnson dropping back into defence.

And the move paid off in the 88th minute when Howards got past Sean Fraser before picking out McEachran who drilled the ball into the bottom corner from 15 yards.

Harding saved from substitute Lee Barney in stoppage-time to preserve United’s advantage.