Brooker guides Banbury to return at the first attempt

Banbury's Simon Boardman is denied by Bournemouth keeper Jez Baker
Banbury's Simon Boardman is denied by Bournemouth keeper Jez Baker

Steve Brooker has guided Banbury back into the top division at the first attempt.

Banbury stormed back into division one of the South Premier Hockey League with a 6-1 victory over lowly Bournemouth as promotion rivals Guildford were thumped at leaders Tunbridge Wells.

We have achieved our objective and can look forward to a challenging season to come

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Manager Steve Brooker had to wait two hours to hear the result of the Guildford game before learning that promotion had been achieved to crown a season that turned around in the second half of the campaign after an inconsistent start.

With Banbury needing a win, they changed the player rotations to produce an attacking formation and it paid huge dividends. Having all of the play, the first of the six goals took a while to arrive when Josh Nunneley slammed his penalty corner into the roof.

There was a long delay when Kieran Symons collided with a Bournemouth player that saw both taken off to hospital. But there was no stopping Banbury despite the visitors failing to convert an almost undefended penalty corner with Scott Reynolds making a dramatic save.

The home side’s domination started to turn into goals as veteran Richard Foreman completed a left-sided move to thunder the ball home before halftime.

The second half continued in the same way with Banbury dominating and winning barrages of short corners. The visiting keeper could only parry Josh Nunneley’s drag-flicks with Simon Boardman and Joe Allan slotting home from close range.

Tyson Nunneley ended one of his many mazy runs for Barney Williams to touch home from close range, Steve O’Connor was denied what seemed to be a clear penalty-flick but Allan followed up the resulting penalty corner.

In the closing stages, Banbury had a lapse in concentration allowing the visitors to break down the right and George Baugniet to get a consolation goal with his crisp shot into the bottom corner. But it was far too late to make a difference.

A delighted Brooker said; “We are the only team to have beaten them all season but Tunbridge Wells have done us a great favour by trouncing Guildford so that we can go into our postponed game at Purley with promotion assured.

“I am immensely proud of the team and the joint captains Barney Williams and my George Brooker who have turned around a squad that was dispirited after demotion last year to bounce straight back into the big time. We have achieved our objective and can look forward to a challenging season to come.”