Banbury close gap on rivals to stay in race for play-offs

Josh Nunneley was on target for Banbury at Henley
Josh Nunneley was on target for Banbury at Henley

Manager Steve Brooker knows Banbury still face a tough test if they are to force their way into the South Premier Hockey League play-offs.

Banbury travel to Bromley & Beckenham for Saturday’s division one fixture lying just three points outside the play-offs.

Our visit to third-placed Bromley & Beckenham this week is a big challenge but we should then have an easier finish than rivals London Edwardians

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Banbury remain in fifth place but have closed the gap on London Edwardians after their 6-1 crushing defeat in the visit to Henley and seeing their rivals falter. It is getting closer as Banbury improved their goal difference and rivals London Edwardians conceded five goals in what could be a very tight race as the end of the season looms.

Banbury have slipped up in previous seasons on their visits to Henley but not on this occasion. Dominant from the outset it took until the 13th minute for Waqas Akbar to finish George Brooker’s cross and break the deadlock.

Despite their dominance, Banbury needed keeper Scott Reynolds to maintain his good form to keep the home side at bay as the home side defence also managed to fend off short corners and attacks until Tyson Nunneley finished from a seemingly impossible narrow on the right to double the lead just before halftime.

With a two-goal cushion Banbury maintained their good form and passing game after the restart with Akbar winning a penalty corner from his run into the circle that Josh Nunneley fired home. Callum White’s run moments later created the chance for Steve O’Connor to increase the lead.

Banbury got two more goals within a minute through George Brooker and Tyson Nunneley before Josh Nunnely slotted home a second penalty corner to make it six before the home side claimed a late consolation through Jonny Taylor.

Brooker said: “We have got a monkey off our back with that emphatic win and revived our promotion campaign as Edwardians have faltered. Conceding a late goal through a lapse in concentration is disappointing but I delighted with a five-goal margin.

“Our visit to third-placed Bromley & Beckenham this week is a big challenge but we should then have an easier finish to the season than rivals London Edwardians and we remain hopeful of a successful promotion bid to National League status.”

Banbury got a welcome win as they beat Reading III 6-4 in the South Clubs Women’s Hockey League.

Natasha Roberts bagged four goals while Jenny Marsh and Vicky Warlow also scored in the division three fixture.