Banbury hit Henley for six as they close gap on leaders

Banbury's James Long beats Henley's Tony Gaze to the ball
Banbury's James Long beats Henley's Tony Gaze to the ball

Having closed the gap on South Premier Hockey League leaders Henley, Banbury will face another tough test at Marlow on Saturday.

Banbury hit Henley for six in Saturday’s division two fixture, with three players each bagging a brace in the 6-0 victory.

The crucial game started quickly with both teams missing good opportunities to take the lead in the early stages. Henley were on top for a ten-minute period in the middle half calling on in-form Scott Reynolds to make a number of excellent saves.

Banbury started to mount the pressure on to the Henley back four and after a host of short corner chances it was Nick Best who broke the deadlock with a coolly deflected finish.

Just before the end of the first half, full back James Long was given a yellow card as he tried to win the ball down Banbury’s left hand side meaning he would finish and start the second half in the sin-bin.

The second half began with Banbury taking control of the game, dominating the ball in Henley’s half, with the visitors only managing to break out on a rare occasion.

But Banbury were unable to find the second goal they were looking for to give them some much needed breathing space.

Banbury’s patience was eventually rewarded when Best finished in almost identical fashion to his opener. Banbury kicked on as Henley began to tire and Steven O’Connor soon increased his side’s lead.

Two goals in three minutes from top scorer Harry Loxton, taking him on to 37 for the season, put Banbury out of sight. Banbury’s defence remained strong, not allowing Henley a look-in with some very cool, calm and collected balls around the back and into the midfield. Banbury completed the rout when O’Connor grabbed his second of the game.

With three games left, Banbury took another step closer to promotion and are now hot on Henley’s heels and are just two points behind.

But they must still focus on the game at Marlow who will be looking to end Banbury’s six-game winning run. Marlow are close to the relegation zone and need points themselves.