Brooker looks for Banbury to recover from the setback

Simon Boardman put Banbury back on level terms at Old Cranleighans
Simon Boardman put Banbury back on level terms at Old Cranleighans

Manager Steve Brooker will be looking for Banbury side to get back on track in the South Premier Hockey League.

Banbury entertain Winchester in Saturday’s division one fixture after slipping up against new leaders Old Cranleighans.

Brooker was disappointed with the manner of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat which saw Banbury slip down to sixth place on goal difference against Old Cranleighans who went top.

There is still a good chance for Banbury to recover with a game in hand over fifth place Oxford University and matches against lowly placed Henley and Winchester. But they will need to rediscover the sparkle of recent weeks if the promotion hopes are not to fade.

In recent games, Banbury have got off to a flying start with an early goal but this week they found themselves defending a penalty corner within the first minute and were relieved not to concede. The sides were closely matched and chances were created at both ends in a very fast and entertaining encounter.

The visitors’ defence and keeper Scott Reynolds maintained their good form with Louis Harris working tirelessly down the left flank. But it was the home side that broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark with a slick penalty corer routine for Will Phillips to deflect into the roof of the net.

Banbury stormed back from the restart and when Jonny Stirrup’s fierce cross into the circle evaded the defenders, Simon Boardman claimed his 11th league goal of the season.

The second half continued at breathless pace with Tyson Nunneley in sparkling form down the right flank, creating chances and snuffing out home possession. But a defensive slip resulting in a penalty corner when a variation on their routine saw Jack Smart squeeze the ball inside Reynolds’ near post. Banbury fought back and got the ball into the net from a penalty corner only for it to be ruled out.

Brooker said: “We are disappointed with our performance as well as the result. Our game did not sustain the excellent form of recent weeks and a draw would have been a more fair reflection of the game but is no disgrace to lose to the leaders.

“We can reclaim a promotion spot with games to come against three of the teams immediately above us as well as lower placed opposition. We entertain Winchester this week and will look to build on our win over them in the first half of the season.”