Archive for Banbury United Football Club

SL: Banbury United squad for 2019/2020 shaping up

Banbury United have confirmed several players that have either re-signed ahead of the 2019/2020 season, or joined the club which include two coming in from Brackley Town Saints.

Mike Ford

United manager Mike Ford gave the low down on those committing to the new campaign:

Manager Mike Ford has confirmed two new players joining from Brackley Town Saints, goalkeeper Alastair Worby and central midfielder James Watts.

Commenting on the signings Mike says

“Alastair is someone who has done very well at Brackley Town Saints and has provided excellent cover for the first team. He is a very motivated individual who will be desperate to be the number one this season.

Alastair Worby

James is a young player who has spent his whole career in senior football at Brackley Town Saints where it would have been very easy for him to have remained. He has taken the plunge to sign for us which show the lad’s ambition and desire to achieve success for himself and ultimately our football club.”

The players are looking forward to the challenge:

Alastair said “ I’m thankful to Mike Ford and the club for giving me the opportunity to play for Banbury United. Looking forward to the challenge ahead and to push the club forward”.

James said “I’m looking forward to joining a new team and competing at a higher level. Thanks to Mike for getting me over to Banbury, looking forward to the upcoming season and testing myself!”

James Watts

We welcome Janes and Alastair to the club.

In addition Mike has confirmed that the following players from the squad that ended the 2018-19 season have also agreed to sign for 2019-20. Jack Harding, Charlie Hawtin, Lee Henderson, Ricky Johnson, Ryan Macdonald, George Nash, Eddie Odihambo, Giorgio Rasulo and Charlie Wise. Mike’s comments on these players are as below:

Jack Harding: Jack has had an up and down season due to returning to the club in pre season not fully fit then sustaining a wrist injury during the season, which held him back. Jack has been fantastic for this club, it’s not about what he has done but what he will be doing in the future for us.

Charlie Hawtin: Charlie has had his injury issues this season restricting his appearances and run in the team. It wasn’t too long ago he was marauding down the touchline and I’m sure with the right conditioning over the summer it won’t be too long until we see it again.

Lee Henderson: Lee is a fantastic player who suffered with injuries which included missing a few weeks through concussion as well as pelvic issues which we manged to eradicate after Christmas. A fully fit Lee Henderson will be a huge asset to this club

Ricky Johnson: Ricky is a captain who leads by example, giving his all every week. Again Rick suffered in pre season with Achilles problems and was a late starter into the season. He, I am sure, is determined as the rest of us to produce our best all next season week in and week out and if we can keep Rick fit and fresh i have no doubts this will happen.

Ricky Johnson

Ryan McDonald: Ryan has a great attitude and worked very hard with the first team squad to develop and improve this year which he has done. Next season can be an exciting one for a very decent talent.

George Nash: George has been fabulous for this football club and despite having a season that didn’t match his expectations in 2018-19 he is looking forward hugely to re-establishing himself to be the first name on the team sheet that he has been over the last three years. I am looking forward to working with George again next season and seeing him develop into an even better player.

Eddie Ohdiambo: Eddie fulfilled his duties last year with admirable professionalism. When called upon to play he showed all his experience and composure. In training he was full of bright ideas and this year he will take on extra responsibilities regards the coaching of the squad.

Giorgio Rasulo: Winning the Players’ Player of the Year Award at any club will tell you everything you need to know about Gio. He has fabulous ability but also a great attitude to go with it which made him a key player in the squad last season.

Charlie Wise: Charlie was appointed vice captain this year when more experienced players were overlooked. He gives his all at training and during games and as the season wore on his performances had maturity written all over them.

Charlie Wise

Looking at the squad in general Mike said “The football club has been very active since the completion of the season. Firstly to encourage our current players to re-sign for the upcoming campaign which has up to this point been very successful, including Amer Awadh signing on contract, and secondly recruiting away from the club has also been very busy with Jack Westbrook of course already having committed to us for next year. We are waiting on others to give their answers in the near future and as soon as we have positive news to bring we will let supporters know.”

Edmund Hottor and Matt Richards are not staying with the club.

2019/20 season non league steps 1-6 revealed

The non-league divisional structures have been revealed for next season’s step one to six clubs, which affects a number of the clubs covered by Sports Shots.

Step 3:

Banbury United continue in the Southern League Premier Division Central and welcome five new clubs to the division for the new campaign, Bromsgrove Sporting, Hednesford Town, Kings Langley, Nuneaton Borough & Peterborough Sports.


Step 4:

Aylesbury United & Thame United continue in the Southern League Division One Central and welcome six new clubs to the division for the new campaign, Bedworth United, Biggleswade FC, Daventry Town, Halesowen Town, St Neots Town & Wantage Town.


Step 5 (Hellenic):

Brackley Town Saints continue in the Hellenic Premier Division after narrowly missing out on promotion, they welcome Burnham, Chipping Sodbury Town, Easington Sports & Westfields for the forthcoming campaign.


Step 5 (South Midlands):

Newport Pagnell Town have been transferred from the Future Lions United Counties League over to the Spartan South Midlands where they join former Aylesbury FC under their new set up of Aylesbury Vale Dynamo’s after relegation from the Southern League.


Step 6:

Ampthill Town, Buckingham Athletic & Winslow United all remain in Spartan South Midlands League Division One where they welcome five new clubs in London Tigers, New Salamis, Shefford Town & Campton, St Panteleimon & Stotfold.

All clubs have seven days to appeal, steps seven and below are to follow in due course.

SL; Banbury United 1-2 Biggleswade Town

Banbury United – 1
Biggleswade Town – 2


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 

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:

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:












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


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

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

For match day photography please click here:

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