Super-sub Johnson earns Puritans three more points

Ricky Johnson grabbed Banbury United's winner against Leiston
Ricky Johnson grabbed Banbury United's winner against Leiston

Ricky Johnson came off the bench to earn Banbury United all three Evo-Stik Southern League points against Leiston.

The Puritans beat Leiston 1-0 in Saturday’s Premier Division Central clash at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium. So, it’s back-to-back home wins for United at the start of the new campaign.

Mike Ford named an unchanged side for the third game running against a side that had comfortably won their opening two matches. But United were far more convincing than the scoreline suggests with Leiston unable to offer a serious threat apart from a brief spell in the second half.

United edged the opening period, Greg Kaziboni picked out Steve Diggin in the box and his shot on the turn was deflected over and moments later a neat passage of play ended with Lewis Gabbidon’s 25-yard drive being tipped over by Marcus Garnham. At the other end, Dominic Docherty’s long-range effort failed to test James Goff.

Chances were few and far between in an even opening period before Chris Henderson began to have an influence on the first half and most of Leiston’s best moves were of his making.

Christy Finch should have done better following a quick counter-attack but shot straight at Goff from the edge of the box. Diggin should also have done better when he shot straight at Garnham after being set-up by Shamsi.

Garnham punched away Shami’s 20-yard free-kick before Charlie Wise rescued a situation that was of his own making when he blocked Finch’s goalbound shot after initially being caught out by the Leiston striker.

Straight after the restart Kaziboni squandered a good opening when he took an extra touch instead of shooting and the chance was gone.

The attacking three of Kaziboni, Diggin and Ravi Shamsi lacked the fluency and link-up play of Tuesday’s performance against Halesowen as United found it difficult to create clear-cut chances. Ford acted and made a double change, throwing on Johnson to partner Diggin up top and Mark Bell out wide.

A quick break ended with Kaziboni cutting inside but Tom Bullard blocked his goalbound effort for a corner. From Bell’s ensuing corner, Lee Henderson’s downward header was cleared off the line by Sam Dunbar.

United finally broke the deadlock in the 66th minute when Kaziboni robbed Bullard and released Johnson who moved into the box and calmly beat the advancing Garnham from 15 yards.

Boosted by the breakthrough, United upped the tempo and Jack Self was just unable to turn in Bell’s low drive at the far post at full stretch. Moments later Johnson headed wide at the far post from Charlie Hawtin’s deep cross.

Leiston were hanging on and a second goal would surely wrap the three points up. But a quick break ended with substitute Rob Eagle’s shot being blocked by Wise and moments later another replacement Matt Blake fired just wide of the far post.

Leiston sensed an unlikely point and showed more urgency in the final third as the game opened up but United recomposed themselves and went close to wrapping it up when Bell’s low drive from close range was blocked. United comfortably saw out four minutes of added-time to pick up three more points.