Harding and Johnson provide key moments for Puritans

Banbury United captain Ricky Johnson was in commanding form against Royston Town
Banbury United captain Ricky Johnson was in commanding form against Royston Town

It’s not only goals which change games and there were a couple of key moments which proved pivotal in Banbury United finally ending their poor home run.

The Puritans beat Royston Town 3-0 in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash, the first time they had picked up three premier division points since August.

It was probably as good a game as Ricky [Johnson] has had in defence

Puritans boss Mike Ford

Three second half goals from Conor McDonagh, who had earlier missed a penalty, Leam Howards and Jefferson Louis won it for Mike Ford’s side who kept a rare clean sheet in the process. But it took a vital save from Jack Harding and a perfectly-timed last-ditch challenge from skipper Ricky Johnson to keep United on level terms in the first half.

Johnson was commanding in central defence and never let the dangerous Josh Oyinsan get a look-in, so much so, that he was taken off on the hour mark.

But Oyinsan would have fancied his chances had it not been for Johnson’s superb tackle on the edge of the box which prevented the striker from getting a clean run on goal.

Harding’s first half save from Gus Scott-Morris also came moments after McDonagh’s penalty miss and, had that one gone in, it could have turned out to be a much different story.

Ford said: “Ricky Johnson was outstanding, going from attack at Merthyr into central defence on Saturday. It was probably as good a game as Ricky has had in defence.

“When Royston took Josh Oyinsan off I was relieved because he was a handful and they were not as much a threat after that.

“That was our first clean sheet for a long time. But Jack Harding made a crucial save just before halftime and that turned out to be a vital moment in the game.”