Symons bags another brace as Banbury close the gap

Banbury's Kieran Symons bagged his 15th goal of the season
Banbury's Kieran Symons bagged his 15th goal of the season

Banbury manager Steve Brooker can look forward the mid-winter break in a much more positive manner following his side’s improved run of form.

Having been relegated from the South Premier Hockey League, Banbury made a disappointing start to life in division two and were nearer the bottom rather than launching an early promotion challenge.

We are now right back closer to where we should have been all along in second place

Banbury manager Steve Brooker

But all that has changed in recent weeks and Banbury go into the mid-winter break in second place after registering their fourth straight victory. It came at Bournemouth, where Kieran Symons bagged another brace to make it 15 goals for the campaign so far.

Banbury returned from their long trip to the south coast with all three points and a five-goal haul to narrow the gap on leaders Tunbridge Wells to just three points.

Goals are coming early in Banbury’s games in recent weeks but they were rocked after only three minutes when Jack Taylor put the home side ahead, rounding a flailing keeper and a wrong-footed defence.

But Banbury’s confidence in their ability to attack has returned and only moments later Simon Boardman’s shot was stopped illegally on the line, a penalty was awarded and Josh Nunneley calmly forced the ball home.

The visitors dominated the remainder of the first half but careless gifting of possession to the home side saw them unable to get their noses in front.

Banbury dominated the second half from start to end finish with a spectacular goal by Joe Allan from Boardman’s pass despite being dragged to the ground by the home keeper as he entered the D. Moments later only a near miraculous save by the home keeper kept Symons off the score sheet but that was soon followed by the award of a penalty corner that the Aussie forward slammed home.

With the visitors rampant, Symons scored again to complete a sparkling left-sided move started from inter-passing across the defence to set up a break down the wing by Louis Harris. Five minutes later Steve O’Connor swept home a crashed pass to complete a great away performance.

Brooker was delighted with a fourth victory in succession and said: “I am really proud of the team. After a rocky patch, skipper Barney Williams has pulled the side together and we are now right back closer to where we should have been all along in second place.

“We have reduced the leaders margin to only three points. We can look forward to the New Year with promotion as a very real prospect.”