Rasulo hits late winner as Puritans get back on right track
Giorgio Rasulo’s 11th goal of the season earned Banbury United their first victory in the Evo-Stik League South in six outings.
The Puritans beat Needham Market 2-1 in Saturday’s premier division central clash at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.
Northampton Town loanee Joe Iaciofano opened his account for club with the early opener. Joe Marsden equalised from a first half stoppage-time penalty but Rasulo won it late on.
With Charlie Hawtin out injured, manager Mike Ford was forced into one just change from the midweek draw with Redditch United, Eddie Odhiambo taking over at right-back.
United got off to the ideal start when they took a fifth minute lead, Ravi Shamsi and Rasulo worked a short corner and when the ball came into the six-yard box Iaciofano netted from close range.
Luke Ingram fired into the side-netting from Marsden’s near post corner and Needham went on to enjoy plenty of possession without creating any real chances. But another near post corner from Marsden was glanced wide of the far upright by central defender James Baker.
United continued to look a real threat on the counter-attack with the pace of Shamsi and Iaciofano causing the visitors problems. The lively Shamsi beat his marker and combined with Johnson and Iaciofano before continuing his run and firing wide with a first time effort from the edge of the box.
In an end-to-end first half, Adam Mills hit a speculative volley from wide on the left flank which had Jack Harding back-peddling but relieved to see the ball fly past his far post.
Marsden created a chance out of nothing when he cut into the box before curling a low shot past the far post in first half stoppage-time and Iaciofano struck the bar from close range when he nearly doubled his and United’s tally.
And how crucial that miss proved in the final action of the first half when Marsden’s shot struck Lee Henderson from point black range in the box and referee Richie Watkins pointed to the penalty spot. Marsden sent Harding the wrong way from the ensuing spot-kick.
After the restart, Harding comfortably kept out headers from Marsden and Jamie Griffiths as Needham enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges. United struggled to retain possession but went close when Rasulo found Iaciofano who released the over-lapping Shamsi but his angled drive was blocked.
At the other end, Griffiths and Mills both just failed to get on the end of a dangerous low cross from Marsden.
The introduction of Greg Kaziboni after missing the last three games changed the contest and gave United more presence in the final third and they carved out three chances in quick succession. Kaziboni advanced and saw his 25-yarder deflected wide, Jake Jessup had to claw away Johnson’s header from Whitehead’s long throw-in and the United skipper glanced another header wide from Kaziboni’s cross.
That signalled the start of United’s best spell of the second half. Kaziboni exchanged passes with Odhiambo before firing well wide and Shamsi’s curling free-kick flashed across Jessup’s goal and just past the far post.
But United won it in the 85th minute when Amer Awadh’s persistence paid off, winning possession from Jake Dye on the left before slipping the ball inside to Rasulo who cut inside his marker and beat Jessup with a low drive from 20 yards that found the bottom corn er of the net.
United almost got a third goal when Kaziboni raced into the box and his cross was hacked clear just as Johnson was about to pull the trigger. But United saw out four minutes of stoppage-time to claim a welcome three points.