There’s excitement in the air for Puritans as the rivalry resumes

Andy Whing knows there is excitement in the air as Banbury United get ready to resume their rivalry with Brackley Town over the festive period.
Banbury United manager Andy Whing. Picture by Peter ShortBanbury United manager Andy Whing. Picture by Peter Short
Banbury United manager Andy Whing. Picture by Peter Short

And the Puritans boss believes the fact his team are ready to go toe-to-toe with the Saints in the Vanarama National League North is a testament to how far the club has come in recent years.

The last time the two teams met in competitive action was over 10 years ago when Brackley won 2-0 at Banbury in April, 2012 when on their way to the Southern League title.

Banbury were promoted from the same level last season and have taken to the higher division in impressive fashion as they head into today’s Boxing Day clash at St James Park (midday kick-off) in the play-off positions.

Brackley, meanwhile, look set to push for automatic promotion which means there is more than just local rivalry on the line in the two matches between the clubs over Christmas.

“I think it all shows how far we have come,” Banbury boss Whing said.

“It’s gone from ringing Brackley up and asking if we can have a pre-season friendly because they were a league higher up to being able to test ourselves against them in the same division.

“We’re virtually halfway through the season, we’re seven points behind them and with their resources and everything they have done in the last few seasons, it’s remarkable for us.

“But we don’t want to go there and get beat, we want to go there and win the game.

“There’s a lot of excitement amongst the fans, it will be two big crowds and they are games to really look forward to. It’s a massive rivalry and you don’t know until you get into the area just how big it is.

“I remember playing for Oxford and we were due to play Swindon for the first time in a long time and the build-up and excitement is just like this. We will be ready but we know it will be really tough.”

Banbury progressed into the fourth round of the FA Trophy with a 4-3 win over Bognor Regis on Tuesday. Giorgio Rasulo scored twice and there was a goal apiece for Jak Hickman and Ben Acquaye.

The Puritans will host Coalville Town in the next round, after their surprise 3-1 win at Chesterfield.