Banbury United were pegged back yet again at the start of their hectic period, drawing 1-1 with Biggleswade Town in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash.
Luke Carnell headed United into a second half lead at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium but Robbie Parker’s fortuitous late equaliser denied the Puritans all three premier division points.
United have had their own problems between the sticks in recent weeks with injuries to Jack Harding and on-loan QPR keeper Martin Herdman, as have Biggleswade. Injuries to their two keepers meant club captain Craig Daniel had to don the gloves for his second game.
Already missing key players through injury, manager Mike Ford saw Charlie Wise have to be replaced by Tom Bradbury after barely five minutes following an aerial clash with Jack Bowen which left the young defender dazed and soon on his way to A&E.
United took time to settle following the disruption and Biggleswade took full advantage to make a bright start, pressing to starve the hosts of any decent possession. A scrappy opening ensued with neither side able to create any worthwhile opportunities before Greg Kaziboni cut inside and shot wide of the near post from 25 yards.
Route one football almost paid off for Biggleswade when a long clearance from stand-in keeper Daniel found Liam Brooks who got clear of United’s rearguard before Bradbury diverted his shot away for a corner. Kaziboni continued to cause problems with his pace and he cut into the box before firing over from ten yards.
United’s first effort on goal came late in the first half following a period of pressure which ended with Jack Self shooting over from 25 yards. Apart from that, United found little joy in the final third against an uncompromising Biggleswade defence which Ricky Johnson seemed to be taking on single-handedly.
The second half got off to a much better start, especially for the visitors who had a couple of good breaks which came to nothing.
Ford made an early change, putting on Elliot Sandy for Stephane Ngamvoulou to give Johnson more support. Almost immediately, United had a couple of efforts from Anthony Wright and Self charged down in quick succession.
But United’s first corner did not arrive until the hour mark and then they had three in quick succession, the third providing the breakthrough in the 64th minute. Carnell got it, heading past Daniel at the second attempt after the keeper had kept out his initial header, having also denied the United central defender from the previous corner.
Leam Howards replaced Tom Winters to give United another option up front but a second goal almost arrived from an unlikely source when Paul Stonehouse’s 25-yarder was tipped over by Daniel. From Wright’s ensuing corner, Carnell headed wide and he continued to be United’s best threat from set-pieces.
Goals change games and, after falling behind, Biggleswade failed to offer a serious threat while United looked a different team, full of running and enterprise. But they needed that second goal and it didn’t arrive.
Instead, they were rocked by an 85th minute equaliser - against the run of play - following a brief spell of pressure in the box which United unable to clear. Lucas Perry’s shot from an acute angle was cleared off the line by Self but the ball hit the incoming Parker and ended up in the back of the net.
Sandy fired wide late on as United looked to snatch the three points back but it was not to be.