Banbury see off promotion rivals to take another step

Banbury's Josh Nunneley bagged a brace at Guildford
Banbury's Josh Nunneley bagged a brace at Guildford

With five games to go, Banbury are right in the mix as they look for an immediate return to the top division of the South Premier Hockey League.

Banbury bounced back from last week’s setback against Trojans to pick up all three points in Saturday’s potentially season defining division two clash at Guildford, where they boosted their goal difference with a 6-1 victory.

We must maintain the quality of our performance if we are to continue our promotion push

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

It was a tough fixture which the final score line does not reflect and the fact that keeper Fergus Dunleavy was his side’s man-of-the-match illustrated just how tight it really was.

Banbury were unsettled in the opening minutes as the strength and quality of their closest rivals for the final promotion place left them reeling under a succession of attacks. But it was Kieran Symons, back into the scoring groove, whose penalty corner slotted into the bottom corner of the home goal gave the visitors the early lead.

With Banbury finding their form, a break into the left of the home D by the tireless Joe Allen found Matt Bull in an unaccustomed forward position to force the ball home and double his side’s advantage.

It was Bull, again in a forward position, whose push was stopped on the line by a defender’s foot, winning a penalty which was slammed home by Josh Nunneley to give the visitors a three-goal lead at halftime.

Despite trailing by three goals, Guildford were not finished and it was only stalwart defence from Nunneley and fellow centre back Harry Camp that preserved Banbury’s three-goal cushion before Barney Williams finished a cross from the left by George Brooker after the restart.

That made it more comfortable for Banbury before Nunneley’s second goal and Simon Boardman’s roofed deflection off a Symons’ penalty corner strike put the result beyond doubt. But Guildford continued to attack and Josh Powell reduced the arrears in the closing stages.

Banbury manager Steve Brooker was very pleased with the day’s work and said: “We have bounced back in great style from the disappointment of the loss last week.

“With five games to go we may be six points behind the leaders but we are also six points ahead of third placed Guildford. We entertain Staines this week and must maintain the quality of our performance if we are to continue our promotion push.”