Roberts bags brace as Puritans thump Stratford

Banbury United's Giorgio Rasulo gets another attack going against Stratford Town. Photo: Steve ProuseBanbury United's Giorgio Rasulo gets another attack going against Stratford Town. Photo: Steve Prouse
Banbury United's Giorgio Rasulo gets another attack going against Stratford Town. Photo: Steve Prouse
Banbury United picked up three more BetVictor Southern League points on Boxing Day.

The impressive Morgan Roberts bagged a brace as the Puritans thumped Stratford Town 5-0 in Thursday's Premier Central derby at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

Roberts grabbed a goal in each half while Ravi Shamsi, substitute John Mills and Giorgio Rasulo also got on the score sheet in the second period to floor struggling Stratford.

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Manager Mike Ford opted for Craig Fasanmade up front alongside Shamsi with Mills starting on the bench while Eddie Odhiambo came in for the suspended Kynan Isaac.

Tom Mehew fired over for the visitors and Christopher Wreh burst into the box before being brought down by Jack Harding only for the referee to wave away his penalty appeals. Those two chances apart, United dominated all the early possession without really threatening Sam Lomax's goal.

But their first serious effort produced the breakthrough in the 26th minute when the impressive Roberts beat Kyle Ambris on the edge of the box before firing past Lomax at his neat post.

An error by Will Davidson let in Fasanmade but his speculative effort was comfortably gathered by Lomax. Stratford had limited possession and their only real threat came on the break from Wreh.

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Rasulo exchanged passes with Roberts before seeing his deflected effort saved by Lomax before he released Shamsi who burst into the box and saw his shot deflected over. In between, Wreh was denied by Harding at the other end from a rare moment of danger for the hosts.

United certainly weren't at their fluent best in the first half but always looked in control despite only leading by a solitary goal. However, they had a scare just before the break when Harding had to be alert to thwart Wreh from a tight angle before doing well to keep out Matthew Bower's header after United failed to fully clear.

Stratford were much improved after the restart and posed more of a threat. They went close when Wreh turned Jack Westbrook inside out before firing just past the far post.

United were slow out of the blocks in the second half but two goals in three minutes put them firmly in the driving seat. United doubled their lead on the hour mark when Bower got caught napping and Shamsi nipped in to rob him and finish neatly past Lomax.

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Mills extended United's lead in the 62nd minute when he twisted and turned in the box before threading the ball past an unsighted Lomax and into the back of the net.

United added a fourth goal five minutes later when Charlie Hawtin's dangerous cross was glanced home by Roberts at the near post.

Harding foiled substitute Matthew Campbell-Mhlope following a slip by Odhiambo. But Roberts was only denied a hat-trick when his snap-shot was somehow kept out by Lomax who then denied Mills after he turned well in the box.

Shamsi set up Rasulo who beat Davidson before firing just past the far post from a tight angle. Mills combined with substitute Mohammed Ahmed, saw his first effort blocked before scraping the upright from his follow-up before Rasulo rounded it off in stoppage-time when he curled a free-kick into the bottom corner of the net.