Banbury head to Oxford Hawks for Saturday’s South Premier Hockey League derby looking to get back on track after seeing their good run ended.
Philip Balbirnie completed a hat-trick as fourth-placed Spencer just edged out Banbury 4-3 in Saturday’s division one thriller. Manager Steve Brooker knows his side will face another difficult task at third-placed Hawks.
With an almost full strength side Banbury settled into their usual attacking style in a hard fought game and without the lapses in discipline that so nearly threw away the points last week.
In the opening stages the home side were denied what seemed to be a clear penalty before a defensive lapse gave the visitors a penalty corner that was coolly slotted home by Balbirnie.
With both teams contributing to a fascinating hard and fast contested game, the ever reliable Steve Campbell found Kyle White whose pass from the top of the D was forced home from close range by Simon Boardman. But the visitors almost immediately restored their lead through Ed Miller before halftime.
Banbury came out with renewed vigour, Harry Brooker picking out Campbell with long pin-point pass out of defence. He found Harry Loxton who used his trade-mark dazzling close control skills to crack the ball home on his backhand to equalise.
But again the home side relaxed after scoring with the visitors quickly restoring their lead through Balbirnie. The frantic action continued with Loxton beating four players before drawing the keeper out of position and then firing home.
But for the third time Banbury relaxed after scoring and the visitors took advantage with Balbirnie completing his hat-trick.
Spencer were forced into long aerial balls out of defence but Tyson Nunneley almost equalised after a scintillating run down the right, leaving six defenders in his wake only to hit the side-netting. Another strong right-sided attack saw the home side go close in the closing moments.
Brooker was disappointed to see his side’s good run ended and said: “When you are playing a side as good as Spencer and then fail to convert your chances you cannot expect to come away with a win. We will be hoping for better next week when we visit rivals Oxford Hawks.”