Banbury rounded off their South Premier Hockey League campaign in style but it was a day of mixed emotions.
Steve Brooker’s boys hammered Staines 8-2 to secure a mid-table finish in division one but the final game also signalled the end of skipper Steve Campbell’s time at the club.
Steve Campbell has been our stand-out players for the last two seasonsSteve Brooker
Brooker knows there will be a big void to fill next season and said: “Steve [Campbell] has been our stand-out player for the last two seasons.
“He was vital to our promotion last season and has worked tirelessly on the field, off the field and training with our junior section, he leaves big boots to fill. But I am looking forward to return of injury hit Steve O’Connor after missing a whole season and we have much to look forward to after the summer break.
“There have been some epic performances and some players have really stepped up to the plate this year with Harry Camp, Harry Brooker and Ian Reynolds establishing themselves as regular players. We look forward to the break and returning in September.”
Back to a full strength squad and fired up after recent disappointments the home side threatened to overwhelm their visitors and it was only a series of outstanding saves from the Staines keeper that kept them in the game. With Banbury finally having the squad available to make rolling substitutions work they were able to keep up relentless pressure on the visitors with Kyle White collecting a along pass to set up Harry Loxton to take a well deserved lead.
But Banbury were caught napping as Staines immediately equalised through James Chapman’s thunderous shot from the edge of the D.
Banbury were rocked but not deterred and with Matt Bull providing a stabilising influence in key midfield roles Tyson Nunneley was able to cap a surging break to restore their lead. As Banbury fought back Richard Foreman had his shot saved.
With the visitors fielding only a limited squad, Banbury’s superior fitness began to prevail as the half wore on with Campbell and George Brooker extending the lead by halftime.
The second half started as the had the first had finished with Banbury but unable to score despite a series of short corners and more heroics from the keeper. It was the visitors who restored some confidence when James Laszlo converted a penalty corner.
But more goals from Simon Boardman, Josh Nunnley, Richard Hobley and Loxton, with his 30th of the season, rounded it off.