FA Trophy: Davidge sends Puritans crashing at first hurdle

Bishops Cleeve keeper Matt Wieczorek denies Banbury United's Conor McDonagh with Tom Hoskins flat out
Bishops Cleeve keeper Matt Wieczorek denies Banbury United's Conor McDonagh with Tom Hoskins flat out

A solitary goal from Jacob Davidge saw Bishops Cleeve send Banbury United crashing out of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

Bishops Cleeve beat the Puritans 1-0 in Saturday’s first qualifying round tie at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

The Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West strugglers certainly deserved a second bite at the cherry with a disciplined display. United did enough to warrant the victory and had plenty of possession but lacked the cutting edge against a well organised defence behind which Matt Wieczorek was in top form.

United started with Ricky Johnson back in defence, Conor McDonagh and George Jeacock up front, while Mark Bell and Darius Browne were given starts on the flanks.

Both sides had a couple of early chances. Eddie Odhiambo headed wide after Bishops Cleeve failed to clear Bell’s corner and Marvin Martin cleared off the line after Ben Hayes failed to score from a tight angle following a deep cross from Jack Watts which evaded Jack Harding.

Following the let-off, United picked up the tempo and began to pose a threat. United twice went close in quick succession when Bell’s free-kick was headed on to his own post by Jack Horrell and from the rebound Wieczorek saved well from Jeacock.

But Paul Holmes should have done better when he raced on to Horrell’s pass before shooting straight at Harding. Wieczorek again came to his side’s rescue twice in quick succession, beating out McDonagh’s angled drive before turning away George Nash’s fierce drive from the rebound.

The visitors survived and still offered a threat of their own with some neat inter-play. But Jeacock went agonisingly close just before the break when he raced past Tom Hoskins and poked the ball wide of the advancing Wierczorek but also the far post.

Bishops Cleeve were denied again by the woodwork shortly after the restart when a shot from Paul Holmes took a deflection and came back off the upright with Hayes allowing Callum White to clear his weak effort off the line from the rebound.

Bishops Cleeve continued to frustrate the Puritans. McDonagh had a shot charged down by Wierczorek after being set-up by Nash before the keeper parried a shot from Browne and gathered the loose ball before McDonagh could pounce.

Sensing the possibility of a replay, manager Mike Ford send on Zac McEachran to try and settle the tie at the first attempt. McEachran soon made an impact, exchanging passes with Browne before being denied by Wieczorek.

Johnson headed just wide of the far post as United picked up a head of steam but they were rocked in the 78th minute when they went behind. Hurrell’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Hayes and Davidge saw his close range effort hit the post before crossing the line.

Johnson was thrown up front in place of Jeacock as United tried to get back on level terms. But substitute Jordan Stoddart should have put the tie out of sight when he glanced a header wide of the far post.

Another replacement, Harlie Price, was denied by a point-blank range from Harding who clawed the ball away from just inside his post. But there was still no way back for United.