Brooker looks for Banbury to hit the ground running

Barney Williams bagged a brace for Banbury at Stourport
Barney Williams bagged a brace for Banbury at Stourport

Banbury resume South Premier Hockey League action with a trip to West Hampstead on Saturday.

And they go into Saturday’s division two fixture looking to pick up from where they left in their bid for promotion.

It was an encouraging start against determined opposition and a great result

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Second-placed Banbury are three points behind leaders Tunbridge Wells while West Hampstead are currently fourth but only two points adrift of Steve Brooker’s side ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

Banbury won 5-1 at Midlands League club Stourport on Saturday despite having several key players missing.

Early errors showed the effect of a four-week break as Stourport employed effective use of the aerial pass to put early pressure on the Banbury defence, bringing the best out of keeper Fergus Dunleavy. But as Banbury began to pressure the home side with attacks down both wings leading to a series of penalty corners.

With short corner specialist Kieran Symons missing, Matt Bull stepped into his place as striker. But it was a slip for Barney Williams to slam home for a halftime lead.

Stourport came out all guns blazing in the second half and rocked back the visitors levelling the scores with a well taken penalty corner. The home side pressure continued as Banbury could not find an answer to their determined attack and it was only an acrobatic goal line save by Harry Camp that stopped the visitors from going behind.

The narrow escape woke up Banbury who began to play more of their natural game against the tiring Stourport outfit and started to put together penetrating moves with passes beginning to find their targets. George Brooker, returning to the side, crashed a shot home to complete a left-sided move and regained the lead.

Another move down the left found Joe Allen whose mazy run into the D and pass found Williams whose shot was deflected home by Simon Boardman. With Banbury completely in command there were two more goals in five-minute spell with another from Boardman before Bull slotted home a penalty corner to run out with the convincing win.

Brooker said: “It was an encouraging start against determined opposition and a great result. But it will be tougher next week with our trip to West Hampstead at the restart of the League campaign with promotion still looking a realistic target.”