Archive for Banbury United Football Club

SL; Banbury v Basingstoke preview with Jack Harding & Luke Carnell

Saturday 20th January 2018

Banbury United v Basingstoke Town

Southern League Premier Division

Banbury Community Stadium

K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Basingstoke Town on Saturday looking to keep their recent good form going, having lost just once in their last five games in January. With three wins and a draw in that run, United find themselves back on the fringes of the divisional play-offs, however having played more games than anyone above them, including eight games more than Slough, their destiny is no longer in their own hands, and will rely on the teams above them slipping up if they are to snatch a play-off place. With sixteen league games left all Banbury can do is worry about their own performances.

Ahead of the game Sports Shots spoke with goalkeeper Jack Harding & defender Luke Carnell, and we asked Jack to recall Banbury visiting Basingstoke back in October:

That was a very tough game! They are a very good footballing side and they worked hard for each other. I think they were on top in the first half but we went in at 1-1. I remember the second half better because we controlled the majority of it, but simply could not find the next goal. I think they scored their second on the break, then a third late on when we were pushing for an equaliser. It was tough to take but they took their chances well

Luke also remembered the game well:

Basingstoke away was a poor game for us, we didn’t look too threatening going forward and looked rather vulnerable at the back, so we need to be more solid defensively, be patient in possession and let our attacking players do what they do best

We reminded Luke that back then the side were in a losing sequence of games, and he looked at the consequence of winning games:

Times are always hard when you’re on a losing run but on the flip side you gain confidence and momentum from positive results. Hopefully we can continue this mini unbeaten run we’ve got going and extend it further

We asked Jack which players he felt have made a difference to the squad lately:

The lads that are still with us! Elliot (Sandy), Jordy (Ngathe) & Charlie Wise over the past few weeks have been key players for us. Jack Finch is another, he was superb when he came in but then got injured. It will be good for us to get him back fit and playing again

Jack Harding

Luke also picked up on the squad:

Our personnel has changed slightly since that game back in October, I feel we are now a batter outfit than then. We are playing to our strengths which is proving very effective lately

Does Jack feel the play-offs are achievable?

Most definitely, on our day we can beat anyone in this league. We just need to get a good run going and then see where it takes us. But we believe we can challenge for those play-off places

We asked both players how they feel their own personal seasons have gone, Jack has found it tough:

The first two seasons we’ve had the best defensive record in our play off winning season and then the second best defensive record in our first season back in this division. This season we’ve conceded more goals so I feel I definitely haven’t been as consistent this year

Luke agreed on consistency:

From a personal note we’ve not kept enough clean sheets for my liking, and we also haven’t ground out enough 1-0 results when going to difficult grounds to play at, and we haven’t always been on top form as a side. On a positive I have managed to chip in with a few goals so I’m hoping to build on both of these aspects

Luke Carnell

We asked Luke just where Banbury can finish the season:

I know it sounds a cliché, but I just want us to finish as high up the table as we possibly can, go into every game trying to take all three points and then see how many points we can accumulate between now and the end of the season

And finally looking ahead to next week-end, a huge game ahead for Banbury agreed Jack:

Away to Hereford is definitely a game to look forward to. Playing in front of a couple of thousand people is the dream for any player at this level, we’ll be looking forward to it for sure

Sports Shots would like to thank Luke & Jack for their time this week.


Tiverton Town 2-2 Banbury United

Tiverton Town – 2

Banbury United – 2

Banbury United survived a second half onslaught on Saturday at Tiverton to earn the right to replay this FA Trophy first qualifying round tie, despite looking odds on at half time to progress after taking a two goal lead and looking comfortable with it, their hosts scored two quick goals at the start of the second half and as the wind picked up so did the tempo as Town sensed they could win the game but United defended well and now face a replay on Tuesday at The Community Hire Stadium.

The opening moments were rather devoid of any real goal attempts, Banbury saw some good movement down their left to release Matt Peake-Pijnen but his cross was comfortable for Martin Rice in the home goal to gather, and a Tiverton corner saw a mass of bodies fighting for a touch but a good strong hand from United keeper Jack Harding saw him push the ball away and a lunging boot from a team mate cleared any possible danger.

The visitor’s then took the lead on fifteen minutes from a simple throw in routine, Peake-Pijnen took the throw out on the left to Ravi Shamsi on the corner of the box, he allowed the ball to roll across his body before turning and firing inside the near post.

Shamsi fires opener

Tiverton rallied after the goal and a good save from Harding and a desperate block from skipper Luke Carnell kept them at bay, before a free kick awarded on the edge of the Banbury box saw Owen Howe thump at goal and again Harding got down well to his left to save two-handed. Nick Hurst then got away down the right for the home side and fizzed the ball across the goal mouth but no fellow team mates were anywhere near getting to the ball before it rolled harmlessly away for a goal kick.

A hefty challenge on Peake-Pijnen on twenty-eight minutes saw him have to be taken off and replaced by Tom Winters. Some sections of the home crowd seemed to think the challenge was worthy of more than a yellow card, but a caution was all that was given, and Tiverton went on to enjoy some possession of the ball; a right wing cross found captain Jamie Price in the middle and he swivelled to shoot but didn’t connect properly and screwed his effort wide.

Price then hurt himself stretching for a ball and ended up having lengthy treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off. Further punishment was inflicted three minutes into added time when Banbury doubled their lead, a ball into the Town area seemed to be fairly safe but as substitute James Richards looked set to deal with the threat he stumbled and allowed Shamsi to collect the ball, draw out the keeper before crossing to Jefferson Louis who got ahead of Tom Gardner to slot home. H/T: 0-2

Eight minutes after the break a right wing cross from Charlie Hawtin was met by the head of Louis who headed home, but the goal was disallowed by the referee despite the Banbury striker taking a boot to the face and having to go off for treatment for a bloodied nose and swollen eye, and eventually had to be replaced by Conor McDonagh.

Moments later a Tiverton free kick was struck goalwards by Ollie Knowles, as the ball deflected off the Banbury wall inside the area a huge appeal for handball went up but the referee waved play on. But on the hour mark another free kick to the home side again went into the Banbury wall, as the player struck by the ball went down the whistle sounded and a penalty was awarded, much to the amazement of the home crowd. Howe didn’t hesitate to take the spot kick, and sent Harding the wrong way. Tiverton now had their tails up!

Tiverton score penalty

Four minutes later the tie was all square, and the goal of the game was initiated by Knowles who produced a perfectly weighted ball down the right wing for Jamie Short to chase after, he crossed and running in Callum Hall flashed the ball past Harding giving the United keeper absolutely no chance.

The home side were now sensing the win, and almost snatched a third when Nick Hurst did well to get to the byline and cross, sliding in at the back post Tom Bath was inches away from connecting, soon followed by Knowles who tried his luck from twenty-five yards but angled his drive wide, and Howe collecting the ball out on the right cut across the Banbury eighteen yard line before unleashing a fierce drive that swooped over the crossbar.

Despite their pressure Tiverton almost orchestrated their own downfall when a throw in deep in their own half went completely wrong and set in McDonagh with a one on one with Rice, but the keeper saved well and gathered the rebound to save his team mates blushes. A Harding goal kick then saw substitute Ricky Johnson flick on and again McDonagh in behind the Town defence, as the keeper advanced he fired across goal and agonisingly just wide of the back post. F/T: 2-2

Attendance: 248

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


For match photography click here:


FA Trophy, 1RQ: Tiverton Town v Banbury United preview + McDonagh interview

Saturday 28th October 2017

Tiverton Town v Banbury United

FA Trophy 1st Round Qualifying

Kick-Off: 3.00pm

Banbury United begin their FA trophy campaign on Saturday with the long trip down to Tiverton Town, who currently sit one place and one point above United although have played a game more. Both teams go into the game in similar form; two wins, three defeats & a draw from their last six in all competitions, but Banbury can go into the match with confidence on the back of a three game unbeaten spell, which includes two recent away league wins and this week’s home draw against Chesham on Tuesday evening.

Tiverton will be looking to avenge their four goals to two FA Cup defeat at Banbury back in September, in a game that was closer than the scoreline suggested, and considering Tiverton only gained promotion to The Southern League Premier last season through the play-offs, they have already shown they are more than capable of competing at this level. A prize fund of three thousand two hundred and fifty pounds awaits the winner, and a place in the second qualifying round in two weeks time.

For anyone wanting to see how the host’s results have gone this season so far click here:

Fancy attending the game?

Click here for directions:

Conor McDonagh

Sports Shots spoke to Conor McDonagh as he and his team-mates prepare to travel.

It’s a long journey but we have got a great set of lads who all get on the coach for away games. We have a laugh, play cards, boosts morale which is why we’re better away from home this season I think, no matter if it’s in the league or cup.

Tiverton have mirrored United’s form and McDonagh feels his side have enjoyed a good week looking ahead to the game.

Yeah they’ve been up and down but we’ll work and keep doing the right things to get a result there. They’re a very direct team so as long as we’re disciplined in shape/defending the attacking side of things will fall into place.

As we approach November, McDonagh reflected on the opening months of the campaign.

From a personal point of view it’s gone alright. I haven’t scored as many goals as I would have liked but my role in the team is to make sure we get Jeff, our big number 9, chances which is why I’ve got a lot of assists this season. I’m a lot fitter this season than last which benefits this team cos I’m able to run in behind and work back to do my defensive duties as a number 10.

The United man has some good memories in the FA Trophy, but what has been his favourite so far.

Probably when I was at City and we played Woking. It was a nice ground and they were a top side in the conference, it was good to see the difference in level.

Sports Shots would like to thank Conor for taking the time to speak to us, support the website and in turn aid our charity fundraising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support and Vasculitis UK.

Non-League Day 2017

This Saturday see’s the annual celebration of non-league day, started seven years ago to promote non-league football during the ‘international break’ and to encourage people to “support their local team”.


Supporters up and down the country face a week-end of discontent with no top flight matches due to the international break, but are encouraged instead of sitting at home or going shopping to go out and discover just what their local non-league football scene offers.

Many clubs offer special deals in order to encourage more support this week-end, in the hope a few will come along and enjoy what they see and return again later in the season. Clubs often use the week-end to try and raise money for charity.

Read why ‘NLD’ was set up:

Non-League Day was set up by James Doe in 2010 as a social media experiment, after being inspired by a pre-season trip to Devon to watch Queens Park Rangers play at Tavistock. It has now grown to become an annual part of the football calendar, backed by Premier League and Football League clubs, MPs, celebrities, media organisations, charities and most importantly the non-league clubs themselves and the fans who turn up on the day.

Always scheduled to coincide with an international break, Non-League Day provides a platform for clubs to promote the importance of affordable volunteer led community football while giving fans across the country the chance to show support for their local non-league side.

Many non-league clubs are almost exclusively volunteer run, with money taken at the turnstiles often funding thriving youth set-ups, projects and facilities which are of benefit to the whole community. The level of skill on offer at non-league grounds will never compare to that at the Emirates Stadium or Old Trafford, for example, but there are other sides to the experience, from which the smaller club will always win hands down. The vast majority of games still kick off at 3pm, ticket prices are realistic, you can often stand (and drink!) anywhere in the ground and will always be guaranteed a warm welcome by people who run their clubs for a love of the game.

Whether you’re a Premier League or Championship fan without a game, a League One or League Two supporter who can’t make an away trip, or just someone who is curious about what their local club has to offer, there is sure to be something to interest everyone

If you are looking for a game to attend Saturday use link provided, all you need to tap in is your postcode:


Sports Shots urges everyone to get out this week-end and discover the teams that are local to you! You never know, you may find a new passion, and when entry costs anything from £4 you’ll have enough to take the kids, other half and some places even admit your pet dog if you ask nicely. (Twitter page ‘non-league dogs’ love these pictures if you do!)


To find out more information about the campaign click here:


Banbury United 2-3 Shildon AFC

Banbury United – 2

Shildon – 3

Banbury United were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday by a very well organised Shildon side, who looked nothing like a side from two levels below their hosts. A fairly lack lustre first half was brought to life when Banbury took the lead just before the half hour mark, but before the United fans could start to relax and look forward to the draw on Monday, Shildon struck back within minutes and after the break took a stranglehold on the game scoring twice more. They then withstood a late Banbury rally after they pulled a late goal back, but several blocks including some on the goal line saw the visitor’s progress into the fourth qualifying round.

Seconds into the game Banbury worked the ball wide left to Tom Winters whose cross looped over Shildon keeper Nick Liversedge and landed on top of the goal netting, which rallied the sizeable crowd gathering behind the goal, and both sets of supporters stretched their vocal chords to try and urge their respective teams on.

At the other end Dan Moore shrugged off some close attention before firing past Jack Harding’s left hand post, and moments later his Shildon strike partner Adam Burnicle got down their left and forced Harding down to his right to turn around his post for a corner.

Banbury won a corner on twenty-six minutes and Luke Carnell headed goalwards, a defender on the line headed away and it was met on the edge of the box by George Nash who fired over. Three minutes later the home side took the lead, a cross from Jefferson Louis was knocked on by Liversedge and as Conor McDonagh struggled to get the ball under control Winters pounced and drove into the top corner.

The lead lasted just three minutes, when a tackle on the edge of the United box left many waiting for the whistle to blow for a Shildon free kick, however Billy Gruelich-Smith fired the ball back in to Burnicle and he fired inside Harding’s near post to level the tie.

Burnicle levels the tie

Banbury almost had a chance before the break to retake the lead when Ravi Shamsi fed the ball in to Louis who was in behind the Shildon defence, however the ball bobbled up and his first touch took the ball into the grateful gloves of Liversedge. Gruelich-Smith then had time to fire straight at Harding from the penalty arc, and in added time a long punt upfield saw Burnicle win the race to the ball and he attempted to lob the advancing Harding and the United faithful held their breath as the ball bounced narrowly wide of the open goal. H/T: 1-1

Straight from the second half kick-off Louis got away down the Banbury right and from just inside the box fired the ball into the side netting. A Tom Winters corner was then headed at goal again by Carnell, a Shildon defender stuck out a boot and the deflection forced Liversedge to flip backwards to tip over his own crossbar.

A cross from the right was then headed straight at the Shildon keeper by Louis, and it seemed only a matter of time before the home side regained their lead, but Shildon rocked their hosts when they took the lead on fifty seven minutes. An attack seemed fairly harmless but United failed to clear, and as Lewis Dodds swung the ball back in to the Banbury box player-manager Dan Moore got in front of Carnell to head into the corner.

Banbury tried to get back in the game, a ball up to Louis was chested down to Winters who squared to Shamsi but he fired high over the bar, but then on sixty-six minutes the visitor’s extended their lead when Gruelich-Smith crossed from their right and in front of goal Burnicle had time to take a touch before firing across Harding into the bottom corner, to send those who had travelled down from County Durham into raptures.

Banbury tried to rally again and Jack Westbrook fired over from twenty yards, before a Louis cross was met at the back post by Winters but he just couldn’t get enough on the ball to turn it home. Banbury stepped up the pressure, and a Tom Winters deflected shot was somehow hacked off the line by a Shildon defender, then with eight minutes left United found a lifeline.

Tom Winters attacked down the left and swung in an inviting cross which substitute Ricky Johnson headed between keeper and defender on the line to give his side hope. Galvanised by the goal, the home support urged their team on and another Winters cross was headed at goal, blocked, and the follow up shot cleared off the line. Despite plenty of pressure the home side simply could not find an equaliser, and the FA Cup dream was over for another season. F/T: 2-3

Attendance: 700

Sports Shots spoke to Banbury manager Mike Ford after the game: 


For match photography click here:


Banbury United v Shildon FA Cup preview & Tom Winters exclusive

Saturday 30th September 2017

Banbury United v Shildon

FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round

Kick-Off: 3.00pm

Banbury United (Step 3) return to FA Cup action on Saturday when they host Shildon FC (Step 5) of the Ebac Northern League Division One. A game of intrigue lies ahead, with Banbury facing a side from two levels lower for the second successive round, and again a side that are doing very well in their campaign so far.

Whilst the side from County Durham face the long journey of over two hundred and ten miles each way, they will go into the game full of confidence, having yet to lose in their league campaign. Of their ten games to date they’ve won seven and drawn three, and currently sit second in their league table.

Shildon will not be daunted by the task ahead of them, having already knocked out a step three side in the previous round, winning by a single goal against famous ‘giant-killers’ Altrincham FC. In fact Saturday’s match will be Shildons fifth in the FA Cup this term already.

Banbury will be looking to pick themselves up after the midweek defeat at high-flying Kettering Town, and to get through to the next round and pocket the seven and a half thousand pound prize fund available to the winners. With the National League top division clubs entering in the next round, the rewards for winning Saturday will not only be financial but also possibly high profile with a number of sizeable ex-football league clubs entering the fold.

For anyone wanting to see how the visitor’s results have gone so far this season click here:

Fancy attending the game?

Click here for directions:


Sports Shots spoke to Tom Winters exclusively ahead of the game, asking what he thought of the game on Saturday:

It’s a massive day for the club, everyone involved wants a good run in the FA Cup and I’m no different. We will be doing our very best on Saturday to make sure we are in the hat for the next round

Winters in action in previous round


We asked if preparation is key when playing teams from a different league:

I’m sure the gaffer as has done his homework on Shildon, and we’ll work on a few things in training on Thursday ahead of the match, but we must stick to the things we do well and play our own game

Tom has settled well into life at Banbury since joining permanently in the summer of 2017:

Yeah it’s been great here, I’m really enjoying paying for my home town club, the lads here are a great bunch and I’m enjoying every minute of it

And finally, just what has been the most memorable moment in the FA Cup so far:

Well my favourite memory has to be from back in 2008, although the fans may not like hearing it I scored for Brackley against Eastwood Town and my goal made it onto Match of the Day, a moment I shall never forget

Sports Shots would like to thank Tom for taking the time to speak to us this week.


FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round Draw

The FA Cup draw for the third qualifying round was made on Monday morning and our two teams left in the competition have the following draws:


7 Banbury United (Step 3) v Shildon (Step 5)

Banbury United have been handed a home draw, just as manager Mike Ford asked for on Saturday, and like Saturday they face a side from two steps below in Shildon FC of the Northern League Division One. Shildon currently sit seventh in their league table and are yet to be beaten in their league campaign, but face a long trip down to the Banbury Skip Hire Community Stadium with over a 420-mile round trip for the tie.


37 Folkestone Invicta (Step 3) v Aylesbury United (Step 4)

Aylesbury face the long 240-mile round trip down to Folkestone for their game, and a tough game it will be against higher level opposition. Currently occupying ninth in the Isthmian Premier Division Invicta have only lost one of their six league games to date however United have been in fine form since their Bank Holiday win kick started their season at Aylesbury FC and will go onto this fixture with some confidence.


Both games will be played over the week-end of 30th September.

Banbury United 2-0 Thatcham Town

Banbury United – 2

Thatcham Town – 0

Whilst the FA Cup may no longer capture the imagination of the footballing world in the higher echelons, in the world of non-league football it is what dreams really are made of. Banbury United went into this game in a no win situation; having started the season on fire and winning their opening five league games and then a FA Cup tie to make it six in a row, they then suffered two defeats at home in the space of three days, meaning that Saturday’s fixture against two steps lower lever Thatcham meant they simply had to win.

Not only to progress in the oldest knock-out cup competition in the world,  not only to claim the financial reward which is so vital to lower level football, not only to keep themselves off the ‘cup-shock’ list, but also to get their season back on track. Whilst neither side had delusions of getting to the latter stages of this prestigious tournament there is still a chance of getting a good draw in the next round which could then potentially see you just ninety minutes off the chance of a National League ex-football league club coming to town.

Thatcham defended well, frustrating their hosts for large periods of the first half. Tom Winters blazed high over the bar in the second minute from outside the box, whilst a right-wing cross was headed straight at Town keeper Chris Rackley by Darren Pond. Winters was working hard down the left wing and on fourteen minutes a fierce drive forced Bab Jarra to stick out a boot to divert for a corner.

Conor McDonagh caused problems all afternoon and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet moments later, when cutting in from the left he fizzed the ball across the six-yard box forcing the slightest of deflections off Rackley which saw the ball spiral towards the bottom corner but eventually rolling wide of the back post for a corner.

Thatcham had a chance on twenty-eight minutes when Henry Owen hooked a cross over his shoulder and just wide, before McDonagh at the other end rolled off the shoulder of his marker to face a one-on-one with Rackley but the keeper turned his effort around his post. Another cross from the Banbury left was completely misjudged by the Thatcham defence and the ball fell to McDonagh who had more time than he realised, he snatched at his shot pulling it wide.

The opening goal came on forty-two minutes, a crunching tackle in midfield saw a free kick awarded to the home side and some discussions between both sets of players and the referee over the severity of the tackle. After a yellow card was shown and treatment given, Winter lofted the free kick into the Town penalty area and Luke Carnell rose highest to loop a header into the far corner.

Carnell opens scoring

The visitor’s almost got a foot back in the game on the stroke of half-time when Josh Helmore received the ball inside the six-yard box with back to goal, he managed to turn his marker and shoot and Harding had to get down low to block. H/T: 1-0

Two minutes after the break Banbury doubled their lead when a Tom Winter corner was met on the corner of the six-yard box by Darren Pond who stooped low to try and connect, but coming in behind both Helmore and Dylan Knight stuck out a boot and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Winters then dispossessed the Town midfield and slid a pass through for McDonagh to run on to, his shot again saved by the feet of Rackley.

Who scored?

Thatcham then enjoyed some possession and a poor United clearance was thumped over the top from thirty yards by Tom Melledew. Another Tom Winter corner then found Carnell and his header looped up and onto the top of the net, before a Town corner from Lamin Sankoh was met at the front post by the head Owen who steered agonisingly inches wide.

A cross from the Thatcham right then saw Sankoh go up against a defender and keeper, just as he looked set to pull a goal back Charlie Hawtin got in a vital block and Harding reacted quickest to gather the loose ball. A United free kick then floated to the back stick was headed narrowly wide by Jefferson Louis, just as the home crowd thought they would be celebrating his ninth consecutive goal in nine successive games.

Chris Rackley then had to be alert twice late on to deny Banbury substitute Leam Howards who got in behind the defence to get shots away, but both times the Town keeper threw himself in front of the ball to block. F/T: 2-0

Attendance: 450

Banbury manager Mike Ford spoke to Sports Shots after the game: 


For match photography click here:


FAC 2QR Banbury skipper talks exclusively to Sports Shots

Saturday 16th September 2017

Banbury United v Thatcham Town

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round

Kick-Off: 3.00pm

Step 3 v Step 5

Banbury United captain Ricky Johnson has given his thoughts ahead of todays FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round fixture versus Thatcham Town at The Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.

When discussing the opportunities to progress in the competition Ricky gave us his thoughts

With the greatest of respect the draw couldn’t of gone any better for us. At home against a team in a lower division. Doesn’t mean its going to be easy for one minute, its 11 players against 11, but if we approach the game with the right attitude and commitment we will have a great chance of progressing in he competition

After a slight set back in the past seven days, today’s cup tie gives slight respite from the league campaign

Without doubt, we couldn’t of asked for a better game to get back on track. Most people within the ground today will expect us to win the game so that can bring its own pressure that we have to deal with.

Johnson will have eyes on progress today

Always difficult to play against teams from a different league to you, and the potential banana skin when they are lower level so how do clubs prepare for these games

We approach each game as it comes up, so we talked about them on Thursday and worked on how they might play and set up against us. We have also watched video highlights of their previous games so we are completely prepared for what we are facing today. However they will be looking to progress in the cup and will have a spring in their step as we did against Wealdstone last season, and took it to the final kick of the game. The longer the game goes on the more confidence they will get and the game will become harder, so it is important we get off to a good start.

With a win today the possibilities from here of a cup run against some notable names must be on the players minds

As i said everyone will expect us to win the game, but we know football doesn’t work like that, if we play to our level and do things right then hopefully we will be in the draw on Monday. If thats the case then the teams left will probably be at out level or above, so just a home draw would be what we are looking for.

Sports Shots would like to offer a huge thanks to Ricky for his time with us today.


FA Cup 2QR Banbury Utd striker Howards shares cup dream

Saturday 16th September 2017

Banbury United v Thatcham Town

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round

Kick-Off: 3.00pm

Step 3 v Step 5

Banbury United host Thatcham Town on Saturday at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup, with neither side needing to be reminded of the potential opportunities a win would present. A sizeable amount of reward in financial terms, as well as the opportunity to progress to play a higher-level side and possibly only ninety minutes away from facing National League level sides.

Thatcham have already overcome three ties to get this far in the oldest cup competition in the world, and have won two of those away from home. Currently sitting fourth in the Hellenic League Premier table they have won six of their seven league games to date in a fiercely competitive division, and their only defeat was at Wantage who were relegated to the Hellenic from the Southern League last season, and Town played seventy-two minutes of that game with ten men!

The Kingfishers have scored fourteen goals in their seven league games and conceded just four, and with the cup games included have scored twenty-six goals and conceded just 5, all in just ten games so far, and it took until the seventh game of their season to concede a goal. Leading scorer for the visitors is Shane Cooper-Clark with ten goals in ten games, with Joe Blount & Josh Helmore both chipping in with four apiece. Certainly a side with confidence going into the game.

However Banbury will be looking to get their explosive start to the season back on track, after two defeats inside the last seven days somewhat derailed their excellent start to the campaign. Five league wins on the bounce followed by progress in the FA Cup two weeks ago made great reading for the Puritans, however two home league games since then have seen two defeats so this FA Cup tie will be viewed as a chance to get things back on track.

Prior to last week-end the home side had scored twenty-two goals and conceded just five in six games but last Saturday & Tuesday United conceded a total of seven goals with four in reply. Those two defeats saw them slip from top place down to seventh albeit just three points off the summit. A fascinating tie lies ahead, both sides can score goals and although it is a game of higher level at home versus two levels lower away, the FA Cup is always a great leveller, and Thatcham will feel it’s a good time to face Banbury.

Sports Shots caught up with striker Leam Howards ahead of the game:

Howards fighting to progress in cup

Reflecting on how big a game the tie is for United Howards admitted

Yes it’s a massive game for us, it would be fantastic to progress to the next round, the FA Cup is the best cup competition in the world in my eyes

After a difficult week for the team who have hit the buffers after such a fantastic start to the campaign, Leam admitted tomorrow is a chance to get back on another run

We seem to have lost focus over the past couple of home games, but we are all determined to get over this and get a big confidence boost by winning tomorrow

And like all players playing in Saturday’s cup ties, Howards admits the dream is to get as far as he can

How far can we go? What a fantastic question, we all dream of going all the way however unrealistic it is, but it would be fantastic to get the chance to play a league team and you never know maybe even get on the telly

Huge thanks to Leam Howards for taking time out to speak exclusively to Sports Shots.


How to find the ground: