Banbury’s relegation battle gets harder after heavy loss

Banbury's Steve O'Connor goes past Old Cranleighans' George Pettit
Banbury's Steve O'Connor goes past Old Cranleighans' George Pettit

Banbury have just six games left to save their season.

They are firmly rooted at the wrong end of the South Premier Hockey League table following Saturday’s 8-2 thumping by Old Cranleighans.

That result puts even more pressure on Steve Brooker’s boys ahead of this weekend’s tough trip to Milton Keynes for Saturday’s division one fixture.

Banbury made their best start for several weeks against Old Cranleighans with breaks down both wings through Louis Harris and Richard Foreman.

But it was a smart restart from their own goal-line through defender Matt Bull which set up a move to give them the early lead.

Bull’s quick start found Tyson Nunneley whose dribble and pass found Kyle White down the right and into the visitors’ area and he crossed for Foreman to push home from close range.

It was beginning to look like the old Banbury with strong attacks from all over the pitch and the ball being moved confidently from side to side until just before half time.

The visitors broke away to equalise through Matt Murphy but it was their second, hotly disputed goal from Jay Harman which upset the Banbury players. Their concentration was lost and the visitors struck twice more in less than five minutes through Harman and Murphy to lead 4-1 at the break.

Admission by the officials at halftime that an error had been made with the second goal hardly helped. But Banbury came back strongly after the restart only to be rocked by another two goals from Murphy and Hugh Robinson.

Worse was to come as home frustration and ill-discipline spread from players on to the bench with Brooker receiving a warning, reducing Banbury to nine players.

Even the visitors caught the ill-discipline bug as one of their players was shown red after lashing at defender Josh Nunneley.

Restored to ten players, Banbury were still unable to keep out the pressure from the visitors conceding a penalty corner from Murphy.

Banbury are disappointingly low in the table but continued to show great heart. Even with such a huge deficit, they changed formation and continued to play an attacking game, reward when Simon Boardman closed the gap with a short range finish.

But the misery was to continue as the visitors restored their six-goal cushion with a penalty corner from Murphy in the dying minutes.