Elliot Sandy hit all four goals as Banbury United finally got the better of Farnborough at the fourth attempt.
The Puritans won 4-1 in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium where Farnborough finished with only ten men after experienced keeper Craig Bradshaw saw red late in the second half.
Having been knocked out of the Buildbase FA Trophy in controversial circumstances in November’s replay and losing by a solitary goal in January’s premier division fixture, United had something to prove and they made no mistake this time.
George Nash tweaked a hamstring in training but Jack Finch returned to the starting line-up following another spell out injured and Jack Self was back after missing the game against Kings Langley through illness. Tom Bradbury partnered Luke Carnell in central defence so Charlie Wise dropped to the bench while Jody Ngathe took over from the injured Charlie Hawtin at right back.
United started the brightest of the two sides and created a couple of early chances.
Tom Winters almost caught out Bradshaw with a driven cross but the keeper managed to scramble back and tip the ball over his bar. Moments later Sandy’s pass released Ricky Johnson, his first touch took him wide of Bradshaw but he couldn’t keep it in play under pressure from the advancing keeper.
After a promising start, the game struggled to progress with the respective defences on top. United still the looked the most likely to break the deadlock and they did so in the 32nd minute when midfielder Sandy displayed his natural goal scoring instinct. Bradbury headed down a free-kick from Winters to Sandy who took one touch before rifling the ball past Bradshaw from six yards. It was a striker’s finish from a midfielder who has made a career out of doing just that.
Boosted by the breakthrough, United stepped up the tempo, crosses from Winters and Self caused problems for the visitors before Sandy had another effort charged down. Winters continued to provide United’s best moments down the left flank and another corner from the winger was headed wide by Carnell.
But United could not have made a better start to the second half, doubling their advantage inside 30 seconds of the restart. Winters was again the provider, crossing low into the six-yard box where Sandy beat Bradshaw at his near post with a neat first time finish.
Substitute Jaydon Antwi missed a good chance to reduce the arrears, robbing Bradbury on the right flank, the on-loan AFC Wimbledon striker cut into the box but snatched at it and the ball flew well wide of Martin Herdman’s upright.
But Antwi made amends in the 57th minute, getting his side back in the game. United failed to fully clear a corner, Connor Calcutt’s low drive was well saved by Herdman but Antwi was on hand to knock the rebound into an empty net from six yards.
Back in the contest, moments later Farnborough lost central defender Josh Bailey following a late challenge from Carnell so were forced to reorganise.
Even so, Antwi showed a turn of pace to race into the box and forced Herdman to save with his feet from a tight angle. But Farnborough were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute when Bradshaw was shown a red card following an altercation with Johnson after the two players went for a cross in the six-yard box.
Bradshaw shoved the United skipper who ended up in the back of the net and the experienced keeper trooped off. CJ Fearn took over between the sticks but his first action was to pick the ball out of the back of the net after he was sent the wrong way from Sandy’s ensuing spot-kick.
Sandy wasn’t satisfied with a hat-trick and he bagged his fourth goal in the 89th minute when his speculative 30 yard free-kick evaded everyone in the six-yard box - including Fearn - and ended up in the far corner of the net.