​Banbury HC secure fifth place with final day win

​Banbury HC secured fifth place in the England Hockey Midlands Conference League with a 4-2 win over Harlesden Magpies to round off the season.
Josh Nunneley sets up another Banbury attack. Photo submitted.Josh Nunneley sets up another Banbury attack. Photo submitted.
Josh Nunneley sets up another Banbury attack. Photo submitted.

Banbury again started like a runaway train, winning a penalty corner in the first minute only to see Magpies keeper Nick Moss make a fine save low to his right.

But with another penalty corner, midfield dynamo Connor Roberts knocked the ball home after Moss could only parry Josh Nunneley’s drag flick.

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Banbury began the second quarter more decisively with Jamie Boardman going close in the second minute and Charlie Camp finding the imperious Tyson Nunneley breaking away down the right only for Moss to snuff out the move.

Half-time arrived with the score still 1-0 despite numerous other penalty corner openings for the home side.

Magpies were not giving up and struck early in the second half with Myles King firing a penalty corner high past home keeper Fergus Dunleavy’s left hand into the top corner and level the scores.

But Banbury bounced right back with Roberts finding Jamie Boardman in the area who passed to George Brooker to slam home and regain the home lead.

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Minutes later a long aerial pass from Josh Nunneley found Brooker whose slip to Nathan Hochman drew another foul and penalty corner. This time Banbury tried their zig zag move which brought a goal last week, but this time Moss was able to sweep the ball away.

Magpies then broke back winning a penalty corner of their own, playing one of their own practice ground moves which gave them a tap in to level the scores.

In one of their signature final quarter performances Banbury dominated with Jacob Buckner Rowley going close, Roberts and Brooker combining to test Moss in the visitors goal, Joe Allen briefly abandoning his man marking defensive duties to combine with Sam Pick and for Tyson Nunneley to find Brooker but all to no avail.

Another foul on Roberts then won a penalty flick with which Josh Nunneley was able to finally beat Moss in the visitors goal and regain a lead.

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When his brother Tyson was cynically floored on the edge of the area only another penalty corner was awarded and Moss again excelled to keep out Hochman’s effort.

But Nunneley, having dusted himself down, returned to the fray and was able to complete another searching pass from Boardman to double lead and make the result safe with only minutes remaining.

Manager Steve Brooker said: “Sadly, we are having to say goodbye to coach Richard Hobley with this, his final home game after ten years at the helm. He has developed the team, brought us through the hiatus of Covid, come second in the League below then led us to promotion, now he has seen us safe for another season at the top level – we will miss him very much.

"He has seen us through and last week and today the team has done him proud with wins in the final games.

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"We have the biggest game in the history of the club in the National Cup semi-final in two weeks against a side likely to be packed with international players but Richard has got us to where we can go in with heads held high and we will do all we can for him.”

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