Puritans are a step closer to relegation

Leam Howards scores his 17th goal of the season against Weymouth at Spencer Stadium on Saturday
Leam Howards scores his 17th goal of the season against Weymouth at Spencer Stadium on Saturday

News that Frome Town had lost late on at Paulton Rovers in Tuesday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash will have been of little comfort to Banbury United boss Paul Davis.

With the Puritans losing 2-0 at Poole Town any hopes of catching Frome are all but over and relegation from the premier division looks a certainty.

Poole dominated the opening stages and it was no surprise when they took an eighth minute lead when Tom Whelan slotted the ball home from six yards after getting on the end of a cross. Poole continued to have much the better of the first period but United managed to stem the tide as the half wore on.

Poole keeper Nick Hutchings had little to do apart from deal with routine crosses and set-pieces even though the visitors upped the tempo in the closing stages.

That improvement continued after the restart but the title chasers doubled their advantage nine minutes into the second half when United were opened up and Luke Burbridge set up Richard Gillespie who scored from close range.

United’s best effort of the game came shortly afterwards when substitute Nathaniel Lewars saw his goal-bound shot from the edge of the box take a slight deflection but it was well saved by Hutchings low down to his left.

After that scare it was all too comfortable for Poole but United went close again in stoppage-time when Tom Ryan set up Lewars but his header from the edge of the six yard box went over the bar.

United can still finish out of the bottom three if they win their final three games and other results go their way but anything less will mean relegation. At the other end of the table, Poole closed the gap on leaders Corby Town to a single point and have a game in hand.