Match Report by Dave Pyzer
The festive fixture brought Banbury United to the Corinium Stadium who would no doubt be looking to avenge the early season loss at the hands of the Centurions.
Since then the Puritans have changed their management but they currently remain at the bottom end of the league table.
The fixture did not start well for Manager Brian Hughes as he had to make a last minute adjustment with Leigh Henry withdrawing just before the kick–off. As a result the starting eleven was the same as the one that finished the fixture against Burnham with Aidan Bennett at left back, Ellis Dunton at centre back and Jacob Davidge on the left wing.
Cirencester kicked off playing towards the Shed End of the ground, on a very slippery surface in steady rain, but it was Banbury who had the first opening when a ‘chipped’ ball over the defensive line from the left flank reached Leam Howards on the left front edge of the area but he failed to control the ball and Glyn Garner was able to gather.
Five minutes later the visitors Ben Whitehead received a ball in space in the left channel but as he was closed down he fired his shot over the bar from 25 yards.
The home response was a quickly taken throw-in by Ed Williams in the right corner to Matt Liddiard who moved it on to Josh Parsons, making a darting run from left to right to the side edge of the penalty area. Parsons took the ball to the bye-line and squared it across the 6 yard box where an incoming Nat Jarvis just failed to get the vital touch.
A minute later Liddiard played the ball to Brad Hooper, on the burst down the right channel, and he slipped it to Williams on the right flank. Nat Jarvis had anticipated the cross and made a run towards the penalty spot but as he looked to pull the trigger the ball was hooked from off his toe by Jack Westbrook.
It was then the turn of Banbury as Jordan Green collected a ball on the left side edge of the home penalty area and carried it to the bye-line before pulling it back towards the penalty spot. The attempted clearance fell to Declan Hartigan on the edge of the area where he initially miss-kicked the ball before recovering to fire over the bar at the second attempt.
The Banbury forwards had shown glimpses of the pace they possessed, taking advantage of the slippery conditions which made it difficult for defenders to turn and chase, and in the 13th minute they opened the scoring. Cirencester lost the ball in the centre circle and the alert Green slid it through for LEAM HOWARDS to chase and collect on the centre front edge of the area. Howards withstood the incoming challenge, regained his balance, and calmly tucked the ball inside the left post. 0 – 1.
Cirencester responded with a move that produced a left wing corner kick that visiting ‘keeper Leigh Bedwell punched out, but it fell to Parsons, left of the penalty spot, and he immediately volleyed it back towards goal for Jarvis to head on the edge of the 6 yard box. It looked destined for the net until Westbrook intervened to head clear from under the bar.
This narrow escape spurred Banbury on and for the next ten minutes they absorbed any threat from Cirencester and mounted counter attacks at pace with Whitehead and Green prominent.
During this period Howards blazed high over the bar when shooting on the turn and Liddiard blocked an effort from Whitehead.
The quick breaks from Banbury were rewarded when a ball over the top of the home defence, down the left channel, was chased down by Howards and as he entered the penalty area a covering Ellis Dunton brought him down for a PENALTY kick to be awarded.
Dunton received a Red Card for the challenge.
JACOB WALCOTT stepped up and placed the kick inside the right post as Garner dived in the opposite direction. 0 – 2.
As a result Manager Hughes made a tactical change four minutes later when he replaced winger Jacob Davidge with midfielder James Mortimer-Jones.
With two minutes of the half remaining Banbury further increased their lead when Whitehead whipped a curling left footed free kick from the right flank into the penalty area for LEAM HOWARDS to volley home from right of the penalty spot. 0 – 3.
The final action of the half was an effort from Williams as he cut in from the left to fire a right footed shot that Bedwell took at the second attempt low down at his right post.
Half Time: 0 – 3
The first goalmouth action of the second half came from Cirencester, five minutes in, as a Williams cross from the right was headed over the bar by Jarvis but three minutes later Banbury scored again as they mounted an attack down their left channel. The shot from Howards when he reached the box was parried by Garner but it came out to an unmarked JORDAN GREEN who calmly side footed it into an empty net from the front edge of the penalty area. 0 – 4.
A few minutes later it became a 10 v 10 contest as Declan Hartigan was shown a Red Card for a challenge on Aidan Bennett.
Cirencester were having more of the ball but were unable to create any clear openings in the stubborn, well organised visiting defence until AIDAN BENNETT finally broke through in the 79th minute. Bennett had been moved forward to his more accustomed forward position as Brian Hughes made changes in search of a goal.
The goal came about as Parsons laid the ball back to Kyle Pitts on the left flank and he in turn launched it towards the penalty area where Bennett collected it, moved to his right and sent a low shot inside the left post from the right of centre edge of the area. 1 – 4.
Three minutes later Cirencester created another good opportunity as a deep cross from the right wing by Ben Wells reached Hooper at the back post but the resultant volley was caught by Bedwell.
Cirencester pushed forward looking for another goal but the final goal of the game was scored by the visitors with six minutes of normal time remaining as Walcott sent a high ball from the right, on halfway, towards the front edge of the penalty area. As the home defence hesitated – thinking the ball would easily bounce to Garner – CARL TAPPIN nipped in to collect and side foot his shot under Garner. 1 – 5.
Final Score: 1 – 5
Following the recent run of excellent results this was a ‘bad day at the office’ for Cirencester who never really performed to the high level they have set this season.
Banbury fully deserved their victory as they took full advantage of the conditions.
In the first half their pace up front was too much for the home side playing up the slope on a slippery pitch making it difficult to turn and chase.
Cirencester enjoyed better possession in the second half but could not break down the determined visitors’ defence – ably assisted by their midfield.
Move on and put it right against Paulton Rovers.