Johnson bags brace as Puritans ease into last four

Banbury United manager Mike Ford saw his side ease into last four
Banbury United manager Mike Ford saw his side ease into last four

Banbury United are into the last four of the OFA Senior Cup again.

The Puritans beat Easington Sports 3-0 in Tuesday’s quarter-final tie at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

Sean Whaler opened the scoring on his debut for the Evo-Stik League South side and skipper Ricky Johnson got one in each half as United knocked out their UHLSport Hellenic League neighbours for the second season running.

United had a couple of early chances. Steve Diggin raced on to Giorgio Rasulo’s searching pass, his chip beat Adam Rimmer but went wide and Edmond Hotter’s fierce drive was deflected just past the far post.

But it took only six minutes for Whaler to open his account when a deep cross from the on-loan Northampton Town player slipped through the grasp of Rimmer and ended up in the back of the net.

Rimmer redeemed himself moments later to keep out Diggin’s snap-shot at his near post and the Sports keeper was kept busy early on, doing well to keep out Johnson’s far post header.

Rocked by the early setback, Sports had to work hard to stay in the tie and win possession but were then hurried into giving it away too quickly. They began to settle into it as the half wore on but without offering a threat.

United doubled their advantage a minute before the break when Ravi Shamsi’s inswinging free-kick was glanced into the net by Johnson.

After the restart United picked up from where they left off and Matt Timms rattled the bar from 20 yards after cutting in from the left. Sports continued to keep it tight and kept their shape without ever looking like getting back into the tie.

United went close when Timms’ cross found Johnson but his header was tipped over by Rimmer. But United increased their lead in the 83rd minute when Diggin crossed for Johnson to firmly head home at the far post.

United went close again when substitute Greg Kaziboni cut inside but fired just wide of the far post.