Final day defeat fails to take gloss off a super campaign

Banbury's Kieran Symons hit 25 goals during the season as his side clinched promotion
Banbury's Kieran Symons hit 25 goals during the season as his side clinched promotion

Manager Steve Brooker was left to reflect on the performances that clinched promotion as he watched Banbury slump to a final day defeat at Purley Walcountians.

With a long journey to south London, only 11 players available and a side weakened by the absence of five first choice players, Banbury were thumped 5-1 at a side already relegated from division two on Saturday.

We have had a disappointing end to the season but it cannot take away from the success of our promotion campaign

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

Banbury are heading in the opposite direction in the South Premier Hockey League, back into the top division at the first attempt despite Saturday’s disappointment.

Banbury got off to a sparkling start, creating half a dozen chances in the first five minutes including two penalty corners.

But, with no regular penalty corner specialist in the team and wayward shooting, their superiority was not converted into goals.

With no regular centre backs available, the visitors succumbed to Purley’s first sortie into their D with Chris Jones claiming the first of his hat-trick to rock Banbury’s confidence.

The visitors continued to dominate possession and scoring opportunities but also continued to fire them high wide and wasted with Purley grabbing two more breakaway goals through Dean Ferreira and Graham Lester before halftime.

Banbury came back from three goals down in their season defining victory in the snow three weeks ago at Tunbridge Wells but it was not to be on Saturday. An inability to finish chances seemed to afflict the whole forward and midfield lines while the home side defied the possession statistics with Jones completing his hat-trick.

Banbury battled on and began to improve in the last five minutes with Joe Allan steering home Steve O’Connor’s pass to claim a consolation goal.

But the poor finishing continued to plague the attack, even missing a penalty stroke that might have made the final score line more respectable.

Brooker said: “We have had a disappointing end to the season but it cannot take away from the success of our promotion campaign that sees our return to the top flight in what will be a crucial season for the club.

“We know what we need to do over the summer, we need rest, reflect and come back even stronger next season to secure our position.”