Puritans denied all three points by late equaliser

Banbury United goal scorer Jordan Green and Chesham United's Ashley Smith tangle for the ball at Spencer Stadium
Banbury United goal scorer Jordan Green and Chesham United's Ashley Smith tangle for the ball at Spencer Stadium

Banbury United picked up another point following a 1-1 draw with Chesham United in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at Spencer Stadium.

But, for the second game running, one point could so easily have been three. Jordan Green gave United the early lead but Toby Little grabbed a late equaliser and Leam Howards missed a glorious opportunity to win it in stoppage-time.

The demise of Hereford United 24 hours earlier and how that affected the bottom of the premier division table gave the Puritans the extra incentive for Saturday’s game.

Sensing the added importance to the contest, United started quickly and Green was denied by Shane Gore with Howards unable to pounce on the rebound.

Chesham, already missing the suspended Darren Purse, then lost skipper Alex Brown after the imposing defender picked up an early injury. Could United take advantage?

They certainly showed enough in the early stages to suggest so and Howards saw a header saved by Gore from Jacob Walcott’s cross before they deservedly broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Green hit a superb dipping shot from 20 yards which flew over the Chesham keeper.

United continued to play neat, attractive football before Chesham created a couple of chances. Tom McConway released Dave Pearce who was denied by Leigh Bedwell after racing into the box and moments later the United keeper had to thwart Ryan Blake on the edge of his area.

United went close to doubling their advantage when Tom Ryan headed against the bar from Duran Martin’s corner and Howards was unable to force home the rebound.

United survived another mix-up, this time between Bedwell and Joel Meade, when Simon Thomas couldn’t take advantage. Thomas had a second chance from the ensuing corner but Bedwell was right behind his effort.

Sensing the fragility in United’s rearguard, Chesham threatened as the half progressed and more hesitancy in central defence gifted the tricky Pearce an opportunity but he could only shoot straight at Bedwell.

After the restart, Luke Allen tested Bedwell from the edge of the box but Ryan went close again when he headed over after Meade had helped on Martin’s corner.

United needed that second goal and the inventive Green looked the most likely to provide or create it as he continued to torment the Chesham defenders who towered over him.

Green had a goalbound shot blocked after good work from the equally impressive Howards but moments later Bedwell did well to tip over a cross-cum-shot from substitute Mark Bell.

Chesham turned the screw in the closing stages, the pressure increased, and United had to rely on the counter-attack. The equaliser finally arrived in the 80th minute when Little’s inswinging free-kick eluded everyone in a crowded box and ended up in the far corner of the net.

Substitute Ben Whitehead fired a 25 yard free-kick wide as United looked to regain the lead and Ryan headed home another Whitehead free-kick only to flagged offside. Howards had the chance to win it stoppage-time when he broke clear from the halfway line but, after rounding Gore, he allowed George Fenton to get back and force him wide of goal.