Yates and Lamb shine as the holders retain their crown

Banbury Hockey Club celebrate their cup triumph
Banbury Hockey Club celebrate their cup triumph

Louis Yates hit the winning penalty-shuffle as Banbury retained the England Hockey Men’s Second XI Cup.

Banbury beat Belper 4-2 on penalty-shuffles after Monday’s final which finished 1-1 at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre.

Banbury went 3-0 down in last season’s final so the holders knew it was important to make a strong start this time. But a defensive slip nearly gifted Belper the lead inside the first 20 seconds when a stray pass was not punished.

That served as a wake-up call and Banbury began to take the game to Belper. Max Grossmith’s snap shot flew over the bar and Ian Reynolds put the ball into the back of the net but not before the umpire had blown for a short corner.

Belper broke into the D and won a short corner that was hammered home to give them the lead. Midway through the first half Reynolds saw his effort stopped on the line but Dave Clark was on hand to fire home the rebound.

Banbury had several chances before the break but could not make them count.

The second half continued where the first half left off, Banbury controlled the majority of possession and won numerous short corners but they were again unable to capitalise.

The game became heated in the closing stages, Harry Simons was clean through only to be brought down and the initial yellow card turned to red after an altercation with the third official. For a brief period the game seemed to calm down but, with four minutes to play, Adrian Simons received a yellow card and clumsy defending resulted in Belper being awarded consecutive short corners.

Solid defending from Rhys Potter and Reynolds kept Banbury’s hopes alive, clearing the ball on both occasions. With seconds left to play Banbury were awarded a short corner, giving them a last chance to win the game in normal time. But, despite being awarded two more short corners, Banbury could not find the net and the final whistle blew.

Banbury went first, Simons rounded the keeper and finishing well on his reverse-stick, Belper levelled things before Grossmith rounding the keeper but shot into the side-netting. Belper missed and Clark put Banbury 2-1 ahead, wrong-footing the keeper, but Belper also scored.

Tyson Nunneley lifted the ball over the keeper and Jamie Lamb made a crucial save. Yates held his nerve, spinning to his right and then to his left before finding the backboard with his reverse-stick.