Puritans end losing run but drop two precious points

Tom Ryan gave Banbury United the second half lead at Spencer Stadium
Tom Ryan gave Banbury United the second half lead at Spencer Stadium

Banbury United ended their three-match Evo-Stik Southern League losing run following Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Biggleswade Town at Spencer Stadium.

But it was a game United needed to win to boost their hopes of getting off the bottom of the premier division in the new year and a solitary point was all they had to show for their efforts.

Manager Paul Davis was again forced to shuffle his pack with Joel Meade and Ade Talabi ruled out through illness and injury while on-loan Oxford United duo Lewis Hayden and AJ George were unavailable with an FA Youth Cup tie looming.

United started brightly and created the first opening when Duran Martin and Jordan Green combined for Jacob Walcott to fire into the side-netting.

But Biggleswade got on top as the first half developed although Leigh Bedwell was untroubled. A scrappy affair ensued with neither team looking to have enough in the final third to make the breakthrough.

But once again United gifted their opponents the advantage in the 28th minute. Bedwell and Tom Ryan got in a mix-up on the edge of the box trying to deal with a hopeful long pass and Jon Woolf took advantage to slip the ball into an unguarded net despite Jack Westbrook’s efforts to keep it out.

Biggleswade almost doubled their advantage moments later when Kelvin Bossman’s header from Woolf’s inswinging corner was cleared off the line by Luke Cray.

But United equalised in the 38th minute when Leam Howards picked out Walcott on the far side of the box and his low cross was turned into his own net by Steve Gentle.

United began the second half with more purpose and Walcott had a goal bound shot charged down before they missed a great opportunity to take the lead shortly after the restart when they were awarded a penalty. It came following a goalmouth scramble when Ryan’s back heel was handled by Cam Mawer who was sent off but Walcott’s spot-kick was well saved by Ian Brown.

But United did go in front in the 54th minute when Ryan outjumped Brown to head home Duran Martin’s corner for his first league goal of the campaign.

Boosted by the goal, United got their tails up and Howards flashed a shot wide from 25 yards. The rain quickened up the surface and Darius Browne, Green and Howards began to run at the Biggleswade defenders who looked more uncomfortable as the half progressed.

But the ten men of Biggleswade refused to lie down and got back on level terms in the 73rd minute when a free-kick from former Puritan Kyal McNulty found Josh Beech. Bedwell saved his initial header but the ball squirmed free and Beech knocked in the rebound.

Knowing they really needed all three points, United went all out for the winner. Cray had a header saved by Brown and that was the closest they came to all three precious points.