Time for players to step up to the plate

Banbury United manager Mike Ford NNL-180225-081522009
Banbury United manager Mike Ford NNL-180225-081522009

Banbury United’s season could be shaped by Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy tie.

The Puritans go into the second qualifying round tie with Hayes & Yeading United on the back of three Evo-Stik League South defeats on the spin.

We are the higher ranked team and we have to cope with that expectation on Saturday

Puritans boss Mike Ford

Indeed, United’s only victory in their last ten games in all competitions came in the FA Trophy against Swindon Supermarine.

Victory over the Isthmian League South Central Division leaders would be a massive and timely boost for manager Mike Ford and his players, let alone a financial one for the club.

Defeat and Ford knows the pressure will only grow on him and his players, who have not picked up three premier division central points since September, following a five-match unbeaten start to their league campaign.

There will be a familiar face in the visitors’ line-up with Scott Bridges returning to the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

Bridges is part of a squad which is enjoying a good season and United will have to produce one of the better performances if they are to get through on Saturday.

Ford said: “Hayes & Yeading are going really well this season. If you’re top of one division you are probably good enough to be in the top ten of the one above.

“But we are the higher ranked team and we have to cope with that expectation on Saturday.”

Jack Finch and John Mills will miss the tie through injury while Ford will be waiting to see how Ricky Johnson, Marvin Martin and Charlie Wise come through tonight’s (Thursday) training session. But whoever plays, they need to step up to the plate.