Puritans are relegated following final day defeat

Chesham United's George Fenton heads over as Joel Meade and Nick Beasant clash which led to the Puritans defender being sent off NNL-150427-103810002
Chesham United's George Fenton heads over as Joel Meade and Nick Beasant clash which led to the Puritans defender being sent off NNL-150427-103810002

Banbury United’s brave fight for Evo-Stik Southern League survival is over and they will be relegated from the premier division.

The Puritans saw their hopes ended on the final game of the season at Chesham United where they lost to a solitary stoppage-time winner from Dave Pearce.

They had to win and hope that relegation rivals Frome Town lost against St Neots Town which meant their destiny was not entirely in their own hands.

United were already down to ten men after the second half dismissal of Joel Meade when Pearce netted the only goal of the game but even if they had won they would have still been relegated after Frome drew with St Neots.

Manager Paul Davis kept the same formation which had served his side so well in recent games but reverted to the line-up which beat Histon with Meade and Hicham Abdellah replacing Tom Fishwick and Darius Browne.

Chesham started brightly, Pearce flashed a shot wide from the edge of box before Mark Bell put in a dangerous cross which Meade headed away. United looked edgy but Kynan Isaac turned inside and let fly with a low drive from 25 yards which went just the wrong side of the upright.

In an even first half on a difficult surface United went close when Jordan Green jinked into the box and got to the bye-line before pulling the ball back but no-one was able to apply the final touch in the six-yard box.

United made a much better start to the second with Leam Howards just inches away from getting to the ball ahead of keeper Shane Gore. But Chesham looked more dangerous in the final third with Connor Wood and Pearce at the heart of their best attacks.

And it was Pearce who came closest to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark when his chip from the edge of the box beat Bedwell but came back off the bar. At the other end Jack Westbrook went close with a near post header from Isaac’s corner which was deflected over.

Substitute Jacob Walcott wasted a good opening when he got on the end of Isaac’s pass but his final ball was poor. Green retrieved the situation and won the ball back before cutting inside and firing over.

United began to find openings, Isaac got into the box and pulled the ball for Jacob Daffern who blazed over. Howards raced clear, Gore parried his attempted chip and Green beat the keeper to the loose bouncing ball but his header landed on top of the bar.

But United’s task got even harder in the 71st minute when Meade got a straight red card for a stamp on Beasant who was booked following an altercation in the area after George Fenton headed over from a free-kick. Meade left the field with his shirt - and United’s hopes - in tatters.

Chances came at both ends in the closing stages, Little hit the bar late on but Gore denied Howards after he burst into the box. United were committed to attack in desperation and left gaps at the back which Chesham began to exploit.

And United’s fate was finally sealed in stoppage-time when they were caught upfield, Chesham countered and a quick break ended with Pearce curling the ball around Bedwell into the far corner of the net.