Banbury’s time at top table is over as they are relegated

Banbury manager Steve Brooker saw his side relegated
Banbury manager Steve Brooker saw his side relegated

Banbury’s time in the top flight of regional hockey is over after they were relegated.

With one game remaining, Banbury’s fate was sealed in Saturday’s South Premier Hockey League defeat at London Wayfarers.

Our two-year spell at the highest level achieved by the club has reached a sad end

Manager Steve Brooker

Banbury play Spencer in their final division one fixture of the season on Saturday but they failed to take their survival fight to the final day.

Manager Steve Brooker said: “Our two-year spell at the highest level achieved by the club has reached a sad end and we are now playing for pride in this week’s last game against Spencer.

“Our performances have improved in recent weeks but we have not converted those into results and we have paid the price. It was a disappointment but the damage to our position was done weeks ago when we lost what should have been winnable games in the early weeks of the second half of the season.

“We must now look to bounce back next season and regain what we have come to regard as our rightful place at a higher level.”

Banbury managed to beat their recent bad habit of conceding an early goal but still came away with A 3-1 defeat at London Wayfarers and, with other results also going against them, their fate was sealed.

With another much changed side seeing the return of Ian Reynolds, Harry Brooker and Harry Loxton, the visitors started brightly and with a resolution not seen in recent weeks. They went ahead when a pass from Barney Williams found Max Grossmith who thundered home.

With spirits high and in the unaccustomed position of having an early lead, Banbury were looking good until a defensive slip at the top of the D gifted the equaliser to Andy Machin.

Banbury still looked good going forward with Richard Foreman excelling from deep positions on the left and Louis Harris in a central role alongside captain Steve O’Connor. But James Howard scored to give the home side the halftime lead.

Banbury were still in with a chance to gain the points they needed to keep the survival race alive with chances coming at both ends. Requiring at least a draw and desperate for the points, Banbury sacrificed a defender to push another player into the forward line.

But the gamble did not pay off and Wayfarers broke through for Machin to grab his second goal late on. Banbury replaced keeper Scott Reynolds with another forward but they were unable to get back on the score sheet.