​Banbury HC rue missed chances in defeat

​Banbury slipped to eighth place in the league after being beaten 4-3 at bottom side Bedford on Sunday.
Tyson Nunneley was on target for Banbury in Sunday's loss.Tyson Nunneley was on target for Banbury in Sunday's loss.
Tyson Nunneley was on target for Banbury in Sunday's loss.

​It leaves Banbury having to win one of their last two games to keep their place at the top level.

Bedford started bottom and in a ‘do or die’ position and fought very hard, making the best of missed chances by their visitors despite ill-discipline nearly costing them dear in the final quarter, whilst Banbury will rue their missed chances that could have seen them safe.

It all looked so promising for the visitors when a Josh Nunneley aerial pass to Connor Roberts then saw him feed Jordi Groenewald who was able to fire home and claim an early lead.

Moments later Groenewald broke through the home defence to find Jacob Buckner-Rowley but the chance went wide, only for Bedford to retrieve the ball and charge down the other end and Tom Blythman to coolly finish and level the scores.

Banbury opened the second quarter strongly with Tyson Nunneley working his way through the crowded midfield to find Man of the Match Nathan Hochman whose close range deflection brought a superb save from home keeper Ben Knights, but Bedford broke immediately away through defensive mix-ups by Banbury for Liam Stevens to clip into the net again from close range to grab a lead against the run of play.

Banbury then won a penalty corner, slammed home by Hochman to level the scores, and then saw a promising mazy dribble into the area by Will Crowfoot winning another corner only for Knights to save Nunneley’s goal bound drag flick, leaving the scores level at half-time.

The second half saw Bedford go back in front when a penalty corner was put away by Tom Blythman.

But home efforts looked doomed to fail as Matt Wilson fouled to get a red card suspension for remainder of the game and Banbury took advantage but could not put chances away. Against the run of play, as Banbury pressed forward, the ten-man Bedford broke away, splitting the visitors defence and bringing a desperate goal line save from Nunneley.

Come the final quarter, as in recent weeks, Banbury again played their best hockey but chance after chance went begging only to see the reduced Bedford break away again and Richard Evans double their lead.

The visitors again pressed forward, even bringing on coach Richard Hobley with the home side down to only nine players in the frantic closing minutes, to draw a brilliant goal line save from James Long’s close range effort, but the pressure led to penalty corner slotted home by Nunneley to reduce the lead, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Manager Steve Brooker said: “We have created many chances to claim League safety, but come second yet again, this time against a team desperate to keep their League status that we needed to beat to make the last two games comfortable.

"We are more than worthy of our place at this level and we have two chances to show that to be the case. Next week we travel to St Albans who are two points above us in the table and we need to prove our credentials or it will come down to a desperate last game struggle.

"I know we have it in us, but what we need now is points not promises."

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