Self puts Puritans back on their way to winning ways
Goals in each half from Jack Self, with a cracker, and Luke Carnell, his first in the league, earned the Puritans three deserved points at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.
Ricky Johnson returned from injury and went straight back up front to partner Conor McDonagh. Johnson took the captain’s armband from Andy Gunn who was replaced by recent signing Tom Bradbury, making his full debut.
Despite back-to-back defeats, the Puritans settled well on a good playing surface and went close from two Zac McEachran corners. McDonagh did well to create space before curling a shot just wide of the upright before Johnson headed wide at the far post.
City relied on the counter-attack through Goldy Capela and Matthew Foy. And it was Foy who had their first chance when his shot was blocked after he linked up well with his strike partner.
Chances were few and far between at both ends, McDonagh shot wide before United broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark with a goal out of the top drawer.
Marvin Martin turned Ollie Snaith inside out and crossed to the far post where Johnson headed the ball back into the danger zone for Self to cushion it on his chest before rifling a fine volley past Dean Snedker.
United went close to doubling their advantage when Bradbury released Johnson on the left and his cross picked out McDonagh who saw his low shot saved by Snedker.
City were forced into a change after going behind with Emanuel Osei replacing Capela and he had a goal-bound shot blocked by Carnell just before the break.
United almost doubled their lead immediately after the restart when Carnell’s header from Martin’s deep free-kick caused problems for City and Self saw his close range effort blocked. City had hardly recovered than they were indebted to Snedker for denying Johnson following a slip from Jordan Gent.
City were disappointing but it took a reflex save from Jack Harding to keep his side on level terms. The United keeper had to divert Harry Norman’s effort away with a trailing foot after his shot took a wicked deflection.
A neat link-up between Self and substitute Sam Humphreys released Johnson in the box but Jordan Williams whipped the ball off the United striker’s feet as he was about to pull the trigger. From another Martin free-kick, Johnson was unable to keep his header on target at the far post under pressure from Gent.
The second half wasn’t much of an improvement on the first period but United always posed more of a threat. And they doubled their advantage in the 73rd minute when Martin’s deep corner found Carnell at the far post and his downward header crossed the line with Paul Cooper only helping the ball into the roof of the net.
Moments later McEachran sent Humphreys clear, his lob beat Snedker but sailed over the bar. City threatened briefly in the closing stages, Foy turned well in the six-yard box but Harding was equal to his effort, Gent headed over from a corner and Osei shot over.