Puritans bounce back from cup exit to earn a point

Callum White impressed for Banbury United against Evesham United
Callum White impressed for Banbury United against Evesham United

Banbury United bounced back from Saturday’s FA Cup setback to take a point against Evesham United in Monday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at Spencer Stadium.

The Division One South & West fixture ended in stalemate between two teams who exited the FA Cup at the weekend and Mike Ford would have been the happier of the two managers. Evesham shaded the contest from start to finish, particularly in the first half, but United were a much better side in the second period and had their moments.

Ricky Johnson started up front alongside Leam Howards, who was recalled to the starting line-up after being on the bench for the FA Cup defeat, as Ford opted for a 4-3-3 system.

But Evesham made a confident start and enjoyed plenty of possession in the final third. The lively George Washbourne had Jack Harding at full stretch to turn his low drive around the post while Adam Mann was allowed to turn in the six-yard box but Bradley Cox deflected his effort wide.

In between, Mark Bell cut inside Will Wellon before firing over from the edge of the box. But United struggled to make an impression on Evesham’s back line.

Liam Harding was denied by his namesake after more neat build-up play involving Louis McGrory and Washbourne who was given too much space on the left flank against United’s 4-3-3 system. Skipper Andy Gunn had to clear off the line from Sean Wood at the end of another excellent passing move from the visitors.

Callum White made a decisive run into the box but snatched his shot wide of the far upright but United found it difficult to create chances. Duran Martin tested Kevin Sawyer just before the break from the edge of the box which the experienced keeper comfortably saved.

After the restart United reverted to a 4-4-2 formation and looked a far better balanced side but Evesham always had more purpose to their game and Nick Stanley flashed a shot wide when he should have done better.

Although Evesham still provided the greater threat, United were much improved and began to pose more questions on the counter-attack. Jack McLaughlin was denied by a combination of Sawyer and Wellon from one such break after he burst into the box.

Substitute Zac McEachran began to have more influence as the half progressed as did Bell playing in a wider position. The game opened up in the closing stages as both sides sensed the breakthrough and Stanley fired over from long range.

Stanley converted a low cross from Mann in stoppage-time but the flag was already up before the ball hit the back of the net.