Unbeaten Banbury United head to Cheshire in the FA Cup

Nantwich Town are the Puritans' second qualifying round opponents

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 5:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 5:28 pm
Action from Saturday's draw with Needham Market (Pictures by Julie Hawkins)

Banbury United are back on the road on Saturday with a tricky Emirates FA Cup tie at Northern Premier League Nantwich Town in the second qualifying round.

Unbeaten and fourth in the table after making a fantastic start to their Southern League Premier Central Division, Puritans were without a midweek game, following Saturday’s 3-3 draw with struggling Needham Market.

Although on paper fans would have expected another victory at the weekend, Banbury found to their cost that the Marketmen proved to be one of the better teams they have played so far this season.

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Although disappointed not to add another win to their tally, the share of the points still kept Puritans second in the league ahead of Tuesday’s round of fixtures and unbeaten on 14 points from six games.

Chris Wreh put United ahead with a penalty for a foul on Alex Babos and Henry Landers soon made it 2-0 with a powerful shot beating the visitors’ keeper.

Needham pulled one back before Landers’ second restored the two-goal cushion.

It was 3-2 when the hosts failed to clear their lines and then a 25-yard stunning drive gave keeper Jack Harding no chance for the equaliser. Banbury threatened but failed to find a late winner in a game they felt they should have won. Speaking to Puritans Radio after the game, Landers said it felt a bit like a loss, but manager Andy Whing was quick to emphasise the positives.

“After the game I had a bit of a rant and tried to pick them back up again,” he said.

“We are still unbeaten and it’s still a fantastic start to the season.

“I just don’t think we were at it today. They were gone at 2-0 but we have given them a helping hand and I said at half time it was a bit like the Barwell game, if we weren’t careful they would score.

“I thought they were probably better second half, had a few more chances, we just didn’t get going.

“It’s frustrating, we gifted them two goals, perhaps three, but we are still unbeaten and we will be better next week.

“I’m never satisfied, there’s always things to work on. I keep saying to the players if they want to improve, keep us at the top of the league or if they want to go higher as a football club, off the ball you have to be so much better and we just weren’t good enough in that area of the pitch.

“We were just lacking that intensity, we probably lost a lot like that last year but we got a draw out of it today and we go again.

“The positives are we look so dangerous when we are going forward. We have such good players and have such belief in them.”

Whing said it was no coincidence where they are in the league because of all the fantastic little things they do in preparation away from the pitch, like scouting, which helps the players on it.

He added: “Our budget is way down from this time last season, but we are way better and I think the little things off the pitch, recruitment, the staff and volunteers who work their socks off, getting all those one per centers right will keep us in good stead in the future.”