Archive for Banbury United Football Club

SL; Banbury United 1-2 Biggleswade Town

Banbury United – 1
Biggleswade Town – 2

23.03.2019

Banbury United were left broken hearted late on Saturday afternoon as a ninety-seventh minute strike took the points back to Bedfordshire, two goals in the opening ten minutes of this Southern League fixture had threatened an afternoon of entertainment at the Spencer Stadium on Saturday however from that point the game failed to deliver as it turned into a midfield battle with very few scoring opportunities created at either end. After the opening frenzy the fixture deteriorated into a series of niggly fouls, plenty of on pitch verbal’s, the ball being thumped either out of the ground or back towards the benches for being under inflated & injuries that needed lengthy treatment, so when the board indicated an additional five minutes were to be played as the clock rolled over the ninety no one was surprised, however that five turned into seven and in that added time just at the hosts thought they’d done enough to share the spoils, Town scored their winner courtesy of substitute Liam Brooks to leave the home supporters and players aggrieved to say the least but after the game United manager Mike Ford told Sports Shots that he felt his players couldn’t have given any more during the game & had not deserved that late sucker punch.

Biggleswade took the lead in the fourth minute when a corner curled in took a couple of deflections out to Matt Ball who from twelve yards out rifled into the top corner, the visitor’s then went almighty close to doubling their lead on ten minutes when Solomon Nwaboukei did well down the flank before feeding a clever pass through for Joe White to hit first time and at point blank range Puritan custodian Jack Harding got some part of his body behind it to block, from the clearance Amer Awadh was released down the left wing where cutting in towards the box he played a smart one-two with Ravi Shamsi before pulling the ball across the face of goal where sliding in at the back post captain Ricky Johnson slid in to equalise.

Ricky Johnson equalised for Banbury

The hosts saw a free kick lifted into the area where Shamsi sliced his first effort up in the air and as it came back down to him he fired over the Town crossbar, ahead of Matt Taylor who was enjoying some early freedom out on the flank getting a cross onto the head of Johnson who outjumped his marker but he could only flick wide, and a clearance played long for Shamsi to chase down saw Sam Donkin in the Town goal advance and almost get caught out by the lively front mans attempted lob however he was close enough to back pedal and gather with both hands; Johnson showed his value at both ends of the pitch on twenty-six minutes when a superb chip from the edge of the box eluded Harding and defenders on the front post but on the line the skipper headed away.

A United attack broke down in their guests half which saw Shaun Lucien sent on the counter attack and after travelling forty yards he slid through the red backline to White who despite the back four calling for offside was allowed to go through on goal, again Harding came out and got something on the shot to deflect it up and over the top. Matt Berry-Hargreaves on his Banbury debut got forward and went for glory from twenty-five yards but fired high over the crossbar, a late Shamsi free kick out wide curled in saw a Wader’s defender fling himself at the cross but miss and Donkin had to throw himself away to his right to save the ball from going straight in. H/T: 1-1

Biggleswade celebrate late late winner

It took twelve minutes in the second period for the first real chance when Nwaboukei stole possession in midfield and played in White who flashed his effort across the goal face and inches wide of the far upright, the consequence of his landing saw White having to have treatment before being stretchered off with an ankle problem. Lucien was next to try his luck from distance but he got is angles all wrong and could only slice away from the intended target, the flow of the game was constantly interrupted as the half wore on, substitutions and further injuries to Awadh saw Greg Kaziboni introduced to the action but his power & pace were well marshalled by the visitor’s backline, his best chance came when he was sent straight down the middle of the pitch with a marker on his shoulder, he did well to get into the penalty area and shoot, the ball sailed wide to which the referee awarded a corner much to David Longe-King’s bemusement.

A Town corner was headed clear but fell nicely for Ball to hit on the volley but he got under it and lifted high & wide away from goal, as time ticked over into extra added time a Biggleswade attack saw some pinball inside the Banbury area and a red shirt throwing himself in front of the ball to spin out for a corner, danger cleared it seemed. However the set piece was swung deep into the back post where Johnson headed out, on the edge of the box Ball cushioned into the path of Brooks who hit it first time through a sea of bodies into the opposite bottom corner. F/T: 1-2

Attendance: 400

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk 

After the game Sports Shots caught up with Banbury manager Mike Ford to discuss the game & look ahead to next season:

For match photography (110 images) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmb2Sc1p

SL P; Banbury player coach proving Bigg hit with Puritan youngsters

Saturday 23rd March 2019
Banbury United v Biggleswade Town
Southern League Premier Division
Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium
K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Biggleswade Town on Saturday looking to shake off their recent run of just one win and two draws in their last eight league outings, now sitting in fifteenth position in the Southern Football League Premier Division Central table with the four point deduction they received now showing as immaterial as they trail the side above them by five. Reaching the final of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup this week has given the squad a taste of victory, and of their seven league games left to play four are at home giving the Puritans every chance of getting back into the top half of the table, the play-offs now seemingly gone as they can only catch fifth place Rushden mathematically but another four points for the Northamptonshire side would end that possibility, which means Mike Fords men are playing for pride and to finish as well as they possibly can to start next season on the front foot. Biggleswade on the other hand are still fighting for a place in the play-offs, victory Saturday could elevate them above Rushden depending on other results and they come to the Community Hire stadium off the back of a very impressive victory over top of the table & champions elect Kettering Town last Saturday, can Banbury improve on the goalless draw at their guests back in October?

Eddie Odhiambo

This week Sports Shots caught up with Banbury utility player Eddie Odhiambo to ask how long he’s been at the club and how it all came about:

This is my second spell at Banbury, I re-joined in a player coach capacity having been in the same role elsewhere last season. I joined as a progression for my coaching as the main factor, the manager here bases a lot of expectancy on his staff and securing the right people around him so it was encouraging to be asked to get on board. I was really impressed by Mike’s (Ford) attitude in my first spell and he envisages his team to have an ethos similar to mine. Working hard has always been my approach to football, and is where his standards are set. It has been a season so far of mixed fortunes on the pitch. Our contrasting home and away form probably encapsulates that best

How does Eddie view his season so far in terms of contribution?

Personally, the discussion I had with the manager was that I would be supporting players especially in the positions I cover, I would be expected to be ready to play at the required level on request. I have played out wide, in central midfield and either full back so my fitness levels have needed to be good. I started this season with a lengthy suspension so it felt like a three month pre-season!

How good does Eddie think this squad is at United, and which players have impressed the most?

The squad has many players other teams would, and have coveted, this level usually finds squads made of young players & stalwarts. Young players like Amer Awadh & Harry Whitehead are a pleasure to work with, I bore them with stories of how they would never have kept up with me when I was their age! Giorgio Rasulo, has impressed me to no end because of his attitude to improve his performances, the regulars like Ricky Johnson are ever present because influence on the team and leadership qualities. Jack Harding & George Nash have maintained a level of consistency since my last stay here

Of the youngsters at the club, who does Eddie view as having a long career in the game?

I’ve already mentioned Amer, Harry and Gio. I could also mention both Charlie’s – Wise and Hawtin in the same breath as having attitudes to improve as players. Matty Taylor has the temperament to succeed and has looked the full time player he is. Ryan Macdonald continues to develop and is great to have a local lad in the first team

Since the win over Needham at the start of the month, two defeats since to Kettering & Tamworth, how were those matches?

The points tally would indicate very disappointing, the manner of goals conceded would also reflect disappointment also, as its well below the level we have displayed, especially at home

Biggleswade Town this week who Banbury shared a goalless draw with earlier in the campaign, what does Eddie recall of that fixture?

I recall this as the game I rolled back the years and gave Greg (Kaziboni) a tutorial in how to play out wide..!! It was a stalemate in the fact that two evenly matched sides couldn’t find a way to win. However, we were resilient and difficult to play against

What are the targets for the remainder of this season?

Targets need to be adaptable, so through my suspension I wanted to be fit to play and make an impact as a coach. From the bench coaching, I wanted to be able to deliver clear, relevant contributions, to affect the game. Today I want to make whoever’s position I have difficult for them to get back in the team

Finally we asked Eddie if he could choose any team mates to go on any TV programme who he would choose:

Jamie Heapy & I’m a celebrity. So he’s as far from my house as possible instead of creeping in my garden like he’s known to do..!!

Sports Shots would like to thank Eddie for his time this week

SL P; Banbury assistant manager is in the Market for an end of season push

Saturday 2nd March 2019
Banbury United v Needham Market
Southern League Premier Division
Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium
K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Needham Market on Saturday looking for the three points which could potentially propel them back up towards the top half of the Southern Football League Premier Division Central table, four league games without victory combined with their recent points deduction has seen The Puritans drop to fourteenth place in the league, the two sides below them in the table have games in hand meaning that United need to pick up some wins in their final ten games of the season in order not to be dragged into any sort of battle towards the wrong end of the table. Needham arrive themselves in a poor run of form, just a single victory in their last seven league outings sees them sitting in ninth place but eight points off the play-off places, both sides will look at this game and see it as a chance to kick start their run in.

Sam Antonbrook (left) with manager Mike Ford

This week Sports Shots caught up with Banbury assistant manager Anton Sambrook to ask how long he’s been at the club and how it all came about?

This is my third year back at the club. After the club got promoted back to the Southern Premier the gaffer approached me about becoming part of his staff, so I worked as a coach for the first two seasons and then became Mike’s assistant last summer. It’s the town where I grew up so having the opportunity to return especially after the supporters trust took over meant a lot to me

What have been the highlights so far?

Collectively, probably the first season where we were pushing for the playoffs right until the end. As individual performances go, the home win against Kettering is the standout performance. Off the pitch, at Kings Langley two years ago, the supporters were unreal in the bar after the game with their singing

How would Anton sum up Banbury’s season this time round?

Frustrating really. We started really well but then we failed to back up our home performances by picking up enough points on the road

How does he rate the current squad at the club?

There are some real quality and talented players in this squad and ability wise it is probably the best we have had in the last three years. But our league position shows that that is not the only necessary requirement to be successful in this league

Are there things Anton looks back on and thinks could have been done differently?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!! We make decisions at the time that we think will have positive outcomes or impacts for this football club on the pitch. I’m sure looking back there are things that have happened that we have done slightly differently

Going into the final ten games of the campaign, what are the targets for the squad?

For the last three years our target has always been get to forty points as quick as possible from the opening day and then see where it takes us, that remains the same. The bare minimum is that we expect the squad to give us every last ounce of effort until the April twenty-eighth in training and in games

We asked Anton to name the best one to eleven he’s seen at the club in his time:

If I include going back to those that I played with to then it would be:

Harding

Fuller

Bowyer

Muckleberg

Cousins

McEachran

Nash

Singleton

Rasulo

Baird

Forinton

Are there any top level manager and assistants that Anton compares himself & Mike Ford to:

I don’t know the answer to that one! We need to win some silverware before we start comparing ourselves to others at the top of their game

Finally, we asked Anton which of the current first team he would least like to spend a holiday with:

Difficult question that! I know who I would want to go on holiday with and that’s Jamie Heapy. That way, I know where he is while I’m away!!!

Sports Shots would like to thank Anton for his time this week

SL P; Banbury defender happy to be a Puritan and no Kid-ding

Saturday 9th February 2019

Royston Town v Banbury United

Southern League Premier Division

Garden Walk

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United travel to Royston Town this weekend looking to avenge their last minute defeat they suffered at their hands back in October at the Community Hire Stadium, and with it claim back some points after being docked four last week after an administrative error earlier in the season. The points deduction seriously hampers the clubs attempts to make the Southern Football League Premier Division Central play-off places, especially after a good January saw them only lose once in five games as they now find themselves twelve points off fifth place with just fourteen league games left to play, but they can build on their last two impressive results where a four goal mauling of Coalville was only blighted by two late goals, followed by a good one all draw at AFC Rushden & Diamonds two weeks ago. A win this week could push them back up the two places they lost in the league table after the points adjustment, and they come up against a Town side that have won just one league game at home since mid-October, can Banbury continue their recent good form?

Harry Whitehead

This week Sports Shots caught up with United defender Harry Whitehead to ask how long he’s been at the club and how it all came about:

I joined the club back in the summer. Towards the end of last season I’d been speaking to Eddie Odhiambo who was with me at Kidlington last year, he spoke to the gaffer about me and from there I enjoyed a tough but enjoyable pre-season at Banbury. This had a massive influence on me joining the club, the training was of a high standard, the set up was very professional & the gaffer explained his intentions on helping me to improve as a player. I found settling in really easy, the lads are all great and knowing a couple of them prior to joining really helped. I knew Charlie Hawtin from when I was at Oxford & obviously Eddie, Lewis Gabbidon, Darius Browne and Mark Bell from Kidlington

How does Harry feel his season has been so far?

I felt like I had a really positive pre-season and I was feeling fit and playing well, but then towards the end I missed a couple of games and the team were doing really well and picking up points so it was difficult to get back in so I went on a short term loan to Kidlington to get some game time and get match fit, something I and the gaffer felt was best for me. Since coming back I’ve tried to take the chance when it has been given to me and I’ve tried to help the team as much as I can. Even when I’m on the bench I’m working hard in training and learning from the likes of Lee Henderson and Charlie Wise who have much more experience than me at this level which is really helpful

How good is this Banbury squad?

The squad is probably the best I’ve played in. I can’t single out individuals who have really impressed me as everyone has impressed me in their own positions

So what is Harry’s best position in the team?

This a funny one, up until December twenty-seventeen I had played as a striker for my whole career. However, I now find myself as a centre back, but if I’m honest I’d play anywhere as you may have seen this season. But so far in this team my favoured position is probably the left side centre back

How has Harry’s football pathway led him to Banbury?

Being from Kidlington I started out in their junior sides until the age of seven when I was picked up by Oxford United. I stayed there until the under fifteen season finished and then I left to focus on my education. When I left I joined Kidlington reserves for a couple of seasons before making the step up to the first team a few seasons back. I played in the first team at Kidlington for about a year and a half before joining Banbury

Defeat at Stourbridge, a win over Coalville and a creditable draw at Rushden, how were these games?

I think the defeat at Stourbridge was a hard one to take, obviously they are very good side and their league position reflects that but I felt on the day we were the better side. They had two chances and took them both and we had chances but weren’t clinical enough, whereas against Coalville we took the chances we made for ourselves, stuck to our principles and got a good result. The result at Rushden was probably fair, it was a very scrappy game on a difficult pitch. But the main thing from that game is that we came away with something

Royston this week, a disappointing last minute defeat earlier in the season against them, what does Harry remember of this game and what do they need to do to get something this time?

I remember this game being one soon after I came back from my loan at Kidlington, they were a quick, physical side who played very direct football. I remember them scoring a wonder goal in the dying seconds of the game to take the three points from us. It wasn’t a nice feeling after thinking we’d done enough to get something from the game. I think we will work on a few things in training this week, how to deal with their threats and nullify any danger but also work on how we are going to play away from home, take our chances and get a result

Finally, we asked Harry to pick a player to go on any television programme, and explain why:

I’d love to see Charlie Hawtin go on Love Island. I think he’d go on to win it and take all the money for himself!

Sports Shots would like to thank Harry for his time this week

SL; Banbury United 4-2 Coalville Town

Banbury United – 4

Coalville Town – 2

19.01.2019

Banbury United saw off Coalville Town on Saturday in a performance far more convincing than the score line suggests, three up by the break they had to endure fifteen minutes of early second half pressure before they added a fourth which most thought was enough to kill off the game, however credit to the visitors who never gave up and grabbed two late consolation goals in the final ten minutes to give the final score a slightly different reflection to the Puritans dominance. A fairly uneventful start to the game was turned round by two United goals inside four minutes and from there the home side never looked back, a killer third just before the interval from Ravi Shamsi wrapped up an excellent first half performance, after the game manager Mike Ford expressed he was a very happy man in terms of the result and his squad.

The hosts had the first chance when Greg Kaziboni played Ravi Shamsi through on goal in the fourth minute, he opted for power but Town keeper Richard Walton stood strong and blocked with both hands, at the other end an attempted lob by Steve Towers over Puritan custodian Jack Harding from twenty-five yards never really troubled the keeper, returning between the sticks as Manny Agboola had been called back to Oxford for under twenty-three duties. An early booking for Kaziboni for a foul on Joe Doyle-Charles didn’t seem to affect the flow of the attacks and on fourteen minutes he won his side a penalty when Shamsi picked him out on the right flank and his run into the box was ended by the outstretched boot Scott McManus, Giorgio Rasulo tucked home into the bottom corner to give Banbury the lead.

That lead was doubled just four minutes later when Ricky Johnson out on the left fed a pass inside to Kaziboni and turning his marker he strode across field before firing past the despairing dive of Walton into the far corner from inside the penalty arc. A Coalville free kick into the area was then headed clear by the home defence and meeting it on the volley from some twenty yards out Doyle-Charles lifted high over the top, followed very closely by a superb curling effort from Tom McGlinchey which flew a couple of yards wide of Harding’s back post, Luke Shaw then tried his luck from the eighteen yard line but fired straight along the ground into the waiting gloves of Harding.

Ravi Shamsi on his way to third United goal

Just past the half hour mark Tim Berridge had a stinging shot straight at the Puritan custodian saved with both hands, at the opposite end a free kick from Rasulo had Walton diving to the base of his near post to push away for a corner, then with just a couple of minutes of the half remaining Banbury bagged their third. Coalville conceded possession inside their hosts half and the ball was knocked down the wing for Shamsi to chase after, defender Kieran Fenton seemed to have it under control but the United man knocked him off it to drive into the box before curling around the keeper & inside the far upright. There was still time for another close miss for the home side, a misplaced pass amongst the visitors defence saw Shamsi given the ball some thirty yards out, spotting Walton out of position he went for the far corner but drove wide of the target. H/T: 3-0

Coalville certainly started the second half looking like a side that had had a half time talking to, but the Banbury defence stood firm and repelled anything thrown at them, whenever the ball did get in behind Harding was happy to collect or clear long, as the half wore on the hosts started looking to extend their lead again, Shamsi collecting a pass deep at the back of the penalty area turned inside before curling straight into the gloves of Walton. They then won a succession of corners that lead to the fourth goal on sixty-four minutes, Rasulo on the corner of the box fired low towards the near post where Johnson got a touch that Walton somehow saved at point blank range, however the ball bounced off him and across the six yard box where Lee Henderson was unmarked to run in and tap into the unguarded net.

Lee Henderson scores fourth

Still the visitors refused to back down and within a minute of the goal they almost snatched an unlikely lifeline when a cross from the wing was met in the middle by an unmarked Kairo Mitchell who did the right thing by heading back across Harding but it bounced a yard wide of the back post. Kaziboni then had another run at the away defence and they allowed him the room to travel into the box and shoot low that forced Walton to his right to gather, then with ten minutes left Coalville did get on the scoresheet when defender Alex Dean ran the length of the pitch evading a couple of challenges on route before tucking into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

As the game drifted to a close Coalville enjoyed long spells with the ball, which was rewarded in the final minute of the ninety when a mass scramble in the United box saw Curtis Burrows get enough of a touch to loop over Harding and in, the three minutes of added time saw the visitor’s throw everything at their hosts but it was all too little too late, the win makes it three out of four for the Oxfordshire outfit as they run into the final third of the season looking for a play-off place. F/T: 4-2

Attendance: 360

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk

After the game Sports Shots caught up with Banbury manager Mike Ford: 

For match day photography please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmzAuGfu

SL P; Banbury duo admit burning desire for play-offs ahead of visit from Coalville

Saturday 19th January 2019

Banbury United v Coalville Town

Southern League Premier Division

Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Coalville Town on Saturday knowing victory will bring them level on points with their guests although they have played four games more, but more importantly three points could bring them within another win or two of the play-off positions as the division starts to show a slight split between the top and bottom halves, but a good run from anyone could still shake this league up despite the top two sides being streets ahead of the rest. Stourbridge & Kettering seem to be battling it out for automatic promotion at this stage, but then just six points separate third placed King’s Lynn and eleventh place Banbury, and United thought they were on a roll with two successive wins in January however defeat last weekend at Stourbridge means they need to regroup and start again, Coalville haven’t lost in their last six matches with four wins and two draws and victory could edge them into those top five positions so both teams have it all to play for.

Greg Kaziboni

This week Sports Shots caught up with midfielder George Nash & firstly winger Greg Kaziboni to ask when he joined the club and what brought him here:

I’ve been at Banbury since the start of this season, the thing that attracted me here was the gaffer as I liked his vision and his ideas so I jumped on board

George has been at the club a little longer:

I joined the club in October 2015 and by my maths – albeit very limited – that means I’ve been here for just over three years. I initially came on loan from Worcester City at a time when Banbury were just entering a new chapter in their history, but despite the change it was the club’s noticeable ambition, the loyal support, the commitment to a playing philosophy, and the warm palpable sense of community that drew me in and confirmed almost instantly, that this was where I wanted to play my football. I’ve enjoyed great success at Banbury that far exceeds the tangible rewards, promotion from the South and West division being the obvious example that inevitably come as a result of being part of a great club. I’ve shared some memorable moments with some great people, the players, staff & supporters that will undoubtedly stay with me for a long time. The pleasure has always been, and always will be mine

What does George believe is his best position in the side, and what formation most suits his style?

I’m not hugely particular when it comes to formations, but I’m most effective as a holding midfield player – my goal to game ratio can attest to that – where I can pick things up in front of the back four and distribute to our attacking personnel. It’s a fairly unglamorous responsibility, but a role I’m suited to and one that hopefully enables our forward players to go and do their business

Greg likes the position he’s been played so far:

I’m one of those players who will play anywhere that the gaffer tells me to,  but I do enjoy being out on the wing, I would say from our results this season our best formation is four-four-two

How has Greg’s season been personally and as a team on the whole?

Previous to this season I had a really bad injury that saw me miss a couple of years of football so as this is my first season back it’s been good, I’m currently the top goal scorer from a wide position so I can’t complain. I think the team has done well and we are still on course to achieve our goal of finishing in the play-off places, we are very good at home and just need to try and pick up some more points on the road and we should be fine

George Nash

George also started this season after some time away from the game:

Coming back from a period of extensive travelling without a proper pre-season meant I was always going to be playing catch-up, but even so I’ll be the first to admit that my performances weren’t up to the standards I expect of myself in those first couple of months. More recently though I’ve been getting back to the level I need to be at, so I want to ensure I retain those standards going forward

Coalville this week at home, what does George remember of the draw at there place back in November?

The game was a tough physical affair but was also an important turning point in our season, coming back from a goal down with ten men away from home was testament to our character and belief that day, so if we can once again replicate that determination for ninety minutes in front of the home crowd, we have every chance of picking up an important 3 points

Greg believes the home form can over turn their guests:

We drew at their place following a bad run of form so the objective that day was just to get something from the game which we did. I remember their midfielder with long hair scoring a screamer that probably deserved all three points but our captain Ricky (Johnson) made sure that wasn’t the case with a great header in the dying minutes. This Saturday we just need to do what we have done at home and start on the front foot, they will have threats but nothing we can’t handle, hopefully we can get all the cherries!

We asked Greg if he thinks Banbury are good enough to make those play-off places?

I do think we are good enough to make it, but we’re just a bit of an underdog in the race when you consider other sides budgets, we are one that will surprise a lot of people come the end of the season. The play-offs are something we do talk about frequently but we take each game as it comes and don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, its always about the next game and that’s what we focus on

George agrees on the one game at a time theory:

The play-offs at this stage, aren’t something we ever discuss but there’d be no point in turning up for training and games every week if we didn’t have belief in what we can collectively achieve this season. We certainly have the footballing ability, but this league has consistently shown that to be successful, you need to be prepared to do all aspects of the game and do them well. It might be a cliché, but we are very much taking every game as it comes

Two wins and a defeat since the turn of the year, how does George view those games?

Given our results against Stratford and Halesowen, it was important that we started picking up points again quickly and so the results against Alvechurch and Barwell were huge. It also meant we continued our strong recent home form which is vital for any team hoping to do well. Of course, the result at Stourbridge was disappointing, but there were plenty of positives to be taken from our performance. It’s certainly something to build on

Greg feels they did well in all three games:

These were three games which we played well although not winning the last one, so for me that’s a positive as we’ve lost to a team that for me, will probably go on and win the league so we can’t be too down about it, I feel we have done well

Who does Greg think will finish in the top five spaces?

Being honest I couldn’t say who will finish in the top five because its been a season where everyone has beat everyone, and the gap between the top ten teams is really tight. I do think Stourbridge & Kettering will be up there along with Banbury but I don’t know which other teams will be joining us

George concurs with the top two places:

Presently it’s likely that Kettering and Stourbridge will be up there come the end of the season, but other than that it really is anyone’s for the taking. Our own results have shown that in this league, nothing is guaranteed so every week is going to be a battle. Our hope is that in April we still have something to play for, but there’s still a long way to go and plenty of points up for grabs

Finally we asked George to pick anyone in the squad he could give a new job to just for twenty-four hours:

Good question. I’d probably pick Edmund Hottor to be my personal bodyguard for the day. No one would dare come near me…

Greg picks a defender:

I’d get Charlie Wise to be a referee because every game without fail he gives them abuse so it would be nice to see him on the receiving end!

Sports Shots would like to thank Greg & George for their time this week

SL P; Puritan striker back to full fitness and hoping season doesn’t turn Stour

Saturday 12th January 2019

Stourbridge v Banbury United

Southern League Premier Division

War Memorial Athletic Ground

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United travel to Stourbridge on Saturday to face the side that currently sit top of the pile in the Southern Football League Premier Division Central table, although second place Kettering do sit two points behind with three games in hand, with this taken into consideration it is still a tough test for the Puritans as they look to build upon their one hundred percent start to the New Year. United themselves only sit three points adrift of the play-offs after wins this month over Alvechurch & Barwell which has seen them bag nine goals on aggregate, however they have played more games than those teams in close proximity both above and below them, a goalless draw against their hosts at the Community Stadium early in December with a hastily re-arranged side showed the character within the squad which was duly noted by the Stourbridge manager on the night, but can Mike Ford’s men do it all again on Saturday?

Ricky Johnson

This week Sports Shots caught up with United striker Ricky Johnson to find out how long he’s been at the club and how he’s found it during his time there:

I started as a youngster at Banbury growing up through the youth teams, I had a spell away to play regular senior football then returned under Ady Fuller when I felt the time was right. I left when Ady did and joined Leamington where I won the Southern League Premier and promotion to the Conference North, I then returned here three years later. When the gaffer took over we met up and he expressed his plans and what he thought we could achieve going forward, it didn’t take much persuading for me to come back and I looked forward to trying to get promotion back to this Premier Division which we achieved in the first season

How has the season been for Ricky so far?

It was a slow start to the season for me this year as I was injured towards the end of last season and throughout pre-season, I’ve only really been injury free now since November. I feel I’m now back to fitness and giving my all whenever the team meet up in either training or games

How good is the squad this time around?

I think since the start of the season everyone was excited with the new attacking players that we recruited in the summer, but it’s probably only been the last month or so that the players have completely understood each other’s movements & been on the same page with regards to passing and anticipation to create the chances and goals that we have recently. If we can stay solid at the back we have the attacking players to win us games

Two defeats followed by two wins since the turn of the year, how has this run been?

We were disappointed to lose at Stratford on Boxing Day when we looked like we may get the winner after getting back into the game, that in a way was harder to take than the loss at Halesowen. But with the two wins in the New Year it gets us back on track to kick on this year

Stourbridge this weekend after a goalless draw against them just a few weeks ago, how do Banbury approach it this time around?

I actually missed the game at our place, but from what was said at training we defended brilliantly and unlocked their defence on a number of occasions but we just couldn’t find that final touch. So I would say we do the same again but this time take our chances

How has the travelling involved in this new division affected the squad?

Most of the players we have understand that we are at a level where travelling long distances at times is part of the game, unless you are going to drop down a couple of leagues it is just part of non-league football now

How does Ricky see Banbury finishing the season?

The league this year has definitely been the most competitive that the Southern League has during my time, usually there would be three or four top sides that expect to win each week and three or four bottom sides that expect to lose week after week. This time out any team can beat any other and no result is that surprising. Our main aim must be to perform to the best of our ability week in week out, if we do that we will be in one of the top spots come April

Finally, we asked Ricky if he could spend a day in the life of someone else, who would it be:

Mark Allitt and Noel Gallagher, just to check if they are in fact the same person!!!

Sports Shots would like to thank Ricky for his time this week

SLP; Banbury United defender thinks his team are beginning to Wise up

Saturday 15th December 2018

Banbury United v Kettering Town

Southern League Premier Division

Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United face high flying Kettering Town on Saturday at the Community Plant Hire Stadium hoping to build upon the draw they earned on Tuesday at home to Stourbridge. The point took the visitors to the top of the Southern League Premier Division Central table, but Kettering have three games in hand and are only a point behind and are widely thought to be the best bets for the league title come next April, meaning Banbury have it all to do this weekend if they are to get anything out of the game. United are on a run of five draws and a win in their last six, and whilst they sit just four points off the play-off places, they have played more games than most of the sides above them, so anything they can gain this week against the side that reached the FA Cup fourth qualifying round will be seen as a bonus.

Charlie Wise

This week Sports Shots caught up with Puritan defender Charlie Wise and asked how his season has been so far:

The season so far has just been ok. On a personal note I have been pleased with the amount of games I have played and it’s been the first time at Banbury that I have started the season and kept my place. The season started really well in terms of both results and performances, putting early points on the board, for myself starting the campaign as the captain due to Ricky being injured helped me and my levels of performance. I think through September I probably had a couple of games where I wasn’t at my highest level which coincided with us dropping some points, but I have been happier with my levels since then and feel like I have contributed well towards the team

How did Charlie end up at Banbury and what is it like as a club?

I have been at Banbury for four years now albeit with a couple of small spells away and an injury, I signed when I was nineteen whilst I was playing for Brackley Town Saints, Banbury put in their seven dayer for me and the opportunity to play at a higher level, which at the time was Southern League Division One, was simply too good to turn down. Being part of a team that got promoted at the first time of asking was special, and a year of football I will never forget! This really is a great non-league football club, from the board, the management staff, players, all the way to the fans, everybody here plays a part. For a young player like myself, this football club has given so many opportunities that others wouldn’t and all you have to do is look at the age of the current squad to see that. The fact that this is a community owned and run club really does make a difference, and you can see that week in week out by the commitment shown by our fans and our volunteers

How good is this current squad?

It’s definitely the best that we’ve had since I have been here, no questions asked. If you look at the players we have, we really should be placed much higher in the league than we are, we have seven or eight players who would in my opinion walk into most sides in this division, and we have a great mixture of experienced & young talented players in defensive areas. If anything it has taken some time for us to understand one another but I think that mentally this squad is not far off being right up there in this division

Which teams have impressed the most so far this season?

That’s a tough one, of those at the top of the table who we have played against, we have put in some really strong performances against and managed to pick up some good points from, Stourbridge & Royston both looked very organised but nobody has stood out and made us think ‘wow’! If anything playing the teams at that end of the table has given us confidence in knowing we really are just as good and should be up there challenging

Four consecutive draws going into this game, how have these games been?

We have a bit of a habit at the moment of drawing games I know, but this is an improvement on September / October where these games would have been lost by the odd goal. I think we can look at both the Lowestoft and Stourbridge games and feel unlucky that we have not picked up all three points as we had enough chances to win both matches comfortably, the Needham game was a bit different where defensively both sides were poor so as a defender, I have to thank our strikers & wide players for getting us out of a hole and grabbing a point

We asked Charlie what he expects from Kettering and how the squad will prepare:

To be totally honest, personally I don’t know anything about them apart from that they have won a few games. I know that our management will have done their homework and when we get to training on Thursday it will be passed on and we will plan on how to win the game. I think if we do everything right from our point of view, and use the pace we have up front, with the determination we have not to concede at the back then we can beat any team in this division, and that includes Kettering!

With Banbury in twelfth place in the table, does Charlie feel this is a fair reflection of the season so far?

League position is always a fair reflection of the season as points don’t lie after twenty odd games, the simple fact is that we haven’t got as many as we expect from ourselves. We are still in a position where seven points separate the play-offs and seventeenth place so there is a real chance to string some wins together and quickly climb that table. Everyone here knows that we need to win more games and we need to do that sooner rather than later, but entering a very heavily congested month is good because it gives us a chance to do exactly that

Finally we asked Charlie if seeing the constant changes at Banbury is a worry to him or to his team mates?

I think the changes are credit to the depth that we have all over the pitch, as a player it is your job to always do your best and make sure that you are at the best level that you can be, it’s not something to worry yourself about, just do your best and deep down everybody knows that if they are giving their best then the manager picks the eleven which he feels will perform the best on the day, that’s just football. We have a really good squad with a lot of good players which can only keep people on their toes and performing well

Sports Shots would like to thank Charlie for his time this week

SLP; Striker is Pur-ely glad to be back in familiar surroundings

Saturday 24th November 2018

St Ives Town v Banbury United

Southern League Premier Division

Westwood Road

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United have had a terrific week after re-signing Ravi Shamsi on loan and then pulling off a stunning single goal victory on Tuesday evening against AFC Rushden & Diamonds, in which the front man was voted man of the match as they gained a much needed three points in what has been a difficult spell for the squad, the win was only their second in their last thirteen games in all competition. They travel on Saturday to fifth bottom St Ives Town who themselves were, until last weekend, on the back of nine defeats in a row in all comps. but put a stop to that with a good two-nil win over Halesowen Town; a United win would see them on the verge of the play-offs whereas defeat would pull their hosts within two points of them in the Southern League Premier Division Central table.

Ravi Shamsi

This week Sports Shots caught up with the returning striker to ask how easy a decision it was to come back to Banbury:

It was very easy for me to join, I had lost my way a bit by going to Halesowen and I needed to get my confidence back, so Banbury was the right choice because I know all the lads here & it’s just what I need to try and get myself back into the Maidenhead set up

What is his favoured position in the side, and is a permanent move back to the Community Hire Stadium ever likely?

I think in a team like Banbury it’s better if I do play in the middle because Kaz (Greg Kaziboni) & Georgio (Rasulo) are very creative players, my runs will help them make better forward passes. I think a move back permanently right now isn’t in my plans, I’m still very young and I’m trying to get myself back into full time football, but what the future holds who knows!

How is it playing in front of the Banbury supporters, and what is his favourite memory of them?

Every time I’ve played here the support has been incredible, the fans are always behind the boys. I think my favourite moment was when I came on and scored that over head kick to win a game, that was definitely one of the best goals I’ve ever scored

We asked Ravi what the manager has asked of him this time round as the club look to get back on track:

I think the last time we won was when I was last here, but the gaffer has told me to pick up where I left off last time, keep working hard for the team and when I get the ball to make it count. I think the team is more than good enough to turn this round so we have to stay positive and just keep working hard

What has been the biggest difference in levels at the various clubs he’s played for?

The biggest difference in this league is having the right team around you, if they don’t know how to use you properly then you cannot show your full potential. I think the difference with other leagues higher than this is that the tempo of the game is much faster, you have to be concentrating for ninety minutes and the players at higher levels are much quicker and stronger

Looking ahead to St Ives this week, is this a must win game, and what info does Ravi have on them after playing against them recently?

This is a big game for us, the type of game we should be winning. I played against them last weekend for Halesowen and they bullied us, I think this game will suit Banbury because of the horrible side of the game that we are very good at. They’re a team that work very hard but I think we have the quality to bring the three points home

First game back in the red n gold saw a win over Rushden & Diamonds on Tuesday, how did the game go and which of his team mates impressed?

It was good to be back and playing with these boys, I enjoyed it and I think I played well, I could have taken my chances but that will come naturally. The boys put in a shift and we deserved everything that we put into it. I think Kaz & the left back Matty (Matt Taylor) pleased me the most, everyone did well but I think if I had to pick then those two played very well. Diggs (Steve Diggin) also scored his first goal so hopefully he & I up front can feed each other

Finally, we asked for a vision of the future, and a prediction for the end of this season:

I’m hoping to finish the season on at least fifteen goals, and I want to be back playing full-time football so that’s the aim. I’m not sure where I’ll be yet but somewhere in the football league if I reach the goals I’ve set for myself

Sports Shots would like to thank Ravi for his time this week

SLP; Commercial director proud to have made his Mark on his boyhood club

Saturday 20th October 2018

Banbury United v Royston Town

Southern League Premier Division

Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Royston Town this Saturday at the Banbury Community Stadium and with no league win in their last four games will be looking to bounce back against the side they took four points off last season. However, Royston currently sit fifth in the Southern League Central Division table two places above their hosts, and have won five of their last six league games whilst the Puritans will be looking for their first league win in five. The eight league places from third down to tenth are separated by just four points, meaning wins at this stage are vital for those with play-off aspirations.

Mark Allitt

This week Sports Shots decided to catch up with a man whose work behind the scenes at Banbury United may go unnoticed to some but is a vital cog in the running of the club. We caught up with the nattiest of dressers on match day Mark Allitt, and welcoming him to Sports Shots first of all, we asked what exactly he is responsible for and how he got involved in the first place:

Well thank you for asking me for this interview! I’m the commercial director of the club and oversee all our sponsorship activity, commercial revenues and internal fund raising. I liaise with all our sponsors on a daily basis and I’m actively involved with the clubs ‘United in the Community’ project. I have also just started to look at the promotion of our ‘Spencer Clubhouse’ and how we can maximise income there.

I became a director back in August 2015 when the club became supporter owned, I’ve been a fan since I was a little boy coming down to see games with my uncle. I was secretary of the supporters club prior to the takeover and worked with Steve Barlow and James Mathie at Supporters Direct to get the process concluded

Is the role hard work, enjoyable or stressful?

I’m just proud to be part of the Banbury United revival, the club has been a sleeping giant since the heyday of the seventies & to see the club starting to develop is really satisfying for me as someone who has been a fan since a young age. We have a long way to go in terms of where we want to be but we’re on an upward trajectory and we are forming a really solid club. The enjoyment comes from seeing all that’s happening and most importantly seeing people happy & enthused about our club, the fans deserve some success as they’ve been through a lot prior to the supporter take over three years ago

How does today’s squad compare to those previously, and which players stand out?

We have some very talented & exciting players here, I’ve obviously seen so many players at Banbury over the years it’s difficult to compare, but the current team is pushing hard to get us close to the top five and to the next level; Banbury United haven’t done that for many years on a consistent basis and that’s the challenge the current squad has. Lee Henderson has shown his class since joining us from a level above, we have invested in the team & brought in Greg Kaziboni, Steve Diggin, Giorgio Rasulo and now John Mills in the attacking area’s so it is exciting times. Some of the current team have been with us since the takeover like Ricky (Johnson), George (Nash) & Jack (Harding), it’s important to form a nucleus of players and build around it

How does Mark feel the summer league reshuffle has worked out?

We just had to roll with the punch really, we had to deal with an awkward situation in the summer having been placed in the Southern section and then moved to the Central section late on. We had planned for the South, so to be moved so late in the day was frustrating, Mike (Ford) had to deal with the squad issues but primarily as a club we just had to get on with things and I wouldn’t say much has changed at all. The travel is less for us and I think it’s helped with our attendances

How far are the club away from promotion to the next level, and would the club be able to cope?

In my opinion the team has the talent to beat anyone on the day and we can certainly challenge the top five positions. This is our third season back at step three in the non-league pyramid, and personally I think Chippenham are a good bench mark for us, they built a solid club at this level and were always in the mix for the play-offs, they got stronger & stronger before making the step up and are currently doing very well in the regional National League level. This club has never played at step two and it would be a truly historic moment for the club and the town.

I think we would cope well because Banbury in the National League would be a big animal in my opinion, Banbury United v Stockport County for example would attract a crowd of well into four figures

Onto Royston this week, does Mark feel the club do better against familiar teams or those they nothing about?

I’m not sure it really matters to be honest, at non-league level team line ups can change so very quickly from match to match, let alone from season to season. Royston are a solid outfit and are carrying on from where they left off last season, I expect another tough game as they all are at this level. Our boys will need to be up for it, but are more than capable of getting the three points

We asked Mark to think back and pick his best eleven players to have played in his time:

Like I said I’ve been a fan since I was a young boy so this would be the team to span my time as a supporters and a director:

1 Keith Baker

2 Ady Fuller

3 Callum White

4 Pete Smith

5 Ian Bowyer

6 Terry Muckelberg

7 Donovan Gethfield

8 Zac McEachran

9 Andy Baird

10 Norman Sylla

11 Tommy Pearson

Finally, we asked if anyone has thought of getting involved at Banbury United FC, are there still opportunities for match day duties or sponsorship?

There are always avenues for people to get involved at this club. We have a fantastic loyal army of volunteers at BUFC, but we are always needing more help, especially as the club continues to grow. Steve Barlow is the best person to contact regarding volunteers but my number is 07503 162632 or email me at commercial@banburyunitedfc.co.uk

Sports Shots would like to thank Mark for his time this week