Puritans unable to break Glassboys but extend unbeaten run

Banbury United's Giorgio Rasulo is denied by Stourbridge keeper James Wren. Photo: Jake McNulty
Banbury United's Giorgio Rasulo is denied by Stourbridge keeper James Wren. Photo: Jake McNulty

Banbury United extended their unbeaten Evo-Stik League South run to six games following Tuesday’s stalemate with Stourbridge.

The Glassboys arrived in second place in the premier division central table but United produced arguably their best performance of the season and deserved more than a solitary point.

United had the first chance of the game. Good work from Amer Awadh on the left flank saw him find Ravi Shamsi in the box and his neat back-heel released Giorgio Rasulo who fired into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Stourbridge soon got into their stride and Callum Powell’s low drive was spilled by Manny Agboola but the keeper was quick to gather at the second attempt before Luke Benbow could pounce.

Stourbridge enjoyed plenty of possession but United looked solid at the back with Harry Whitehead making an assured start in central defence.

United went close again when Steve Diggin’s cross was met by Shamsi who could only head wide from a central position. Moments later, Charlie Wise just failed to get on the end of Shamsi’s inviting free-kick in the six-yard box.

United had three chances in quick succession to break the deadlock and they should have taken one of them. Awadh released Shamsi with a defence-splitting pass but his shot was blocked by the advancing James Wren, who then palmed Rasulo’s follow up away and Diggin could only lift the ball over the bar from an excellent position.

Stourbridge almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime when Forde quickly turned defence into attack and found Powell who picked out Brad Birch on the overlap but he fired wide of the near post.

After the restart, Shamsi cut in from the right and curled the ball just wide of the far post. Rasulo’s neat pass found Shamsi who was denied by Wren from a tight angle.

In between, Forde’s cross was met by Birch’s glancing header which went straight into Agboola’s arms. Aaron Hayden missed the best chance of the night when he got on the end of Powell’s deep cross, his header came back off the post and the full-back blazed wide from the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

United began to get on top but chances came at both ends as the game opened up with Mike Ford’s side having the best of them.

Kaziboni’s low drive was saved by Wren after he was set up by Awadh on the edge of the box. Kaziboni and Shamsi combined to set up Awadh but he took a touch, took too long and allowed Wren to make a relatively easy save when the ball should have been in the back of the net.

The impressive Birch fired just wide from 25 yards before Shamsi ran at the retreating Stourbridge defence but his low drive was turned away by Wren.

Forde’s 25-yarder was palmed away by Agboola. A goal had to come and it nearly did with five minutes left when Hayden helped on a free-kick to Benbow who headed straight at Agboola from six yards.

But United were not to be denied their point even though they deserved all three.