Derby has more at stake in Banbury’s survival fight

Banbury's Kyle White completed a hat-trick at Havant
Banbury's Kyle White completed a hat-trick at Havant

Despite seeing his side miss out on more vital points, Banbury manager Steve Brooker is not giving up hope of avoiding the drop.

Banbury entertain Oxford Hawks in Saturday’s South Premier Hockey League derby, knowing it’s a must-in game for his side.

There are three games to go, a possible nine points, so we know what we have to do in this week’s derby with Oxford Hawks

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Banbury returned from their long trip to second-placed Havant without a division one point following a 6-4 defeat. Havant hit three goals in the opening five minutes before Banbury fought back with Kyle White completing a hat-trick.

Banbury conceded within 20 seconds as a defensive slip direct from the start gifted Ollie Nail the opener. Within a minute the Banbury defence misjudged a lofted aerial pass, giving Michael Deeler-Merricks an easy one-on-one to beat Scott Reynolds.

The shell-shocked visitors’ defence succumbed to another lofted ball which allowed Nail to double his tally three minutes later.

Three goals down and reeling, Banbury found their footing in the game, taking an equal share of possession and penetrating the Havant defence several times. But they failed to complete their chances with the devastating efficiency of the home side.

Banbury’s persistence finally paid off in the 22nd minute when White ruthlessly slotted home a penalty corner.

The second period again started badly for Banbury with Marciej Janiszewski restoring Havant’s three-goal cushion two minutes after the restart. Banbury continued to play some of their best hockey of the season but without reward and went further behind as James Speke finished off a penalty corner.

The visitors have found new resolve of late and won a penalty corner within a minute for White to double his tally. But another slip allowed Nial Stott to finish another penalty corner.

Banbury continued to dominate possession and White’s long pass found Adrian Simons who reduced the arrears with five minutes left. Two minutes later the home keeper flattened Simons off the ball and White completed his hat-trick as he powered home the penalty-flick.

Brooker had watched the opening spell with dismay but found great encouragement in the remaining 65 minutes.

He said: “Havant took their chances with ruthless efficiency. We created more chances but were less able to complete and paid the price.

“But there are three games to go, a possible nine points, so we know what we have to do in this week’s derby with Oxford Hawks.”