Saturday 22nd September 2018
Banbury United v Bath City
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium
Banbury United return to FA Cup action this weekend as they host Bath City of the National League South in the second qualifying round, in what will be a really tough test against the side that sit in fifth place in the level above with six wins and four defeats in their opening ten games of the season. United brought Weymouth back to the Community Hire Stadium in the previous round to progress and will be looking for the giant killing tag and the chance to go further in the competition with some bigger clubs not too far away at this stage.
This week Sports Shots caught up with goalkeeper Jack Harding and striker Amer Awadh ahead of the game, and asked both how good the spirit is within the camp after such a good start, firstly Jack:
We’ve had a really good start considering it’s a new league for us, and most of the teams we’ve played we haven’t really known much about. The lads have settled in really well, all the boys get on well so the atmosphere is great, that definitely shows on the pitch and in our results
Yeah it’s been a very good start to the season and all the new lads have settled in really well, and that includes myself too. There’s a really good bond in the squad, unfortunately we lost our unbeaten start last weekend but we bounced back on Tuesday to get another three points
We asked Amer of all the new faces that have come in, who have impressed the most?
Personally I think Greg (Kaziboni) and Hendo (Lee Henderson), Greg because he is so powerful, fast and can use both feet, he’s a defenders nightmare. With Hendo it’s a bit different, he’s given us a lot of stability at the back with his experience, and he reads the game really well
Jack picked out exactly the same players:
Greg has obviously scored a couple of great goals and is very exciting to watch! But as a keeper I’d have to say Hendo, he’s come in and been a rock at the back for us. He has struck up a good partnership with Wisey (Charlie Wise), but to be fair all the new lads that have come in have improved our squad
Jack hadn’t played until this week with new keeper James Goff coming in and keeping the number 1 shirt, how does Jack think he’s done?
Goffy has done really well for us, he’s been great to train with and is a top lad. It hasn’t been frustrating having to watch him at all, I’ve learnt from him whilst he’s been with us just by watching him and training with him. He’s a great keeper and still only young, the only frustration for me has been not being fit enough to play and help the team
How does Amer feel he has settled into the squad?
I’ve settled in to the squad really well, I have a good bond with all of the players and when it comes to the games I’ve been really enjoying my football recently. The level of football has been challenging but I think I’ve coped really well with it
And has he set himself any targets for the year ahead?
My targets are exactly the same as the teams, get as far as we can in the FA Cup and also get promotion for the club. I really think this could be the year for us; I’d also love to get more goals this season too!
Jack started his first game this week at Bedworth, how was it?
It’s only been seven or eight games but it felt like months. I’m so happy to be back playing and be playing pain free, it’s been a long time. The game wasn’t that great to be honest, we were not at our best but we won three-one so that’s all that matters. It was a game that maybe last year we would have drawn two-two but late on we scored and they didn’t!
We asked Jack how the squad treat the FA Cup when it rolls around.
It is just another game but we’d all love a good FA Cup run! We are confident in our ability and we will try and win the game as we always do, we know it will be a tough game against Bath so we have to be at our best
Amer sees it as a chance to shine:
Yes of course we treat every game the same but obviously the match on Saturday will be a great one to show what we’re really about, and to show everyone how good we are
United currently occupy fourth place in the league, we asked Amer how competitive he thinks it will be:
I think it’s too early to say as we haven’t played enough teams so see what we are really up against this season, but I’m expecting it to be a challenging & competitive league
It’s a very competitive league, the teams we’ve played so far have been physical and very well organised, it’s too early in the season to rule anyone out. The top ten look very strong
After their first league defeat of the season last week, what did Jack make of the defeat?
I wasn’t there, but from what the lads have said it was just a bad day at the office. We created some chances that we didn’t take and we didn’t make it hard enough for them to score
Amer has similar reflections:
I’d say it was just a bad day at the office, we still created enough chances to at least earn a draw. I wouldn’t say they were better than us but more a case of we made some costly mistakes which led to their goals
Rounding up we asked Amer how each level of football he has experienced so far has differed:
Out of all the club I’ve played for, this is probably the most physical and organised side I’ve played for. I’ve played abroad which was probably my hardest challenge mainly due to the weather and having to cope with a different language. I also played for Oxford City for a while, mostly for the reserve side but making a few appearances for the first team, but I didn’t play enough to say that’s the best level I’ve played at
And has Jack any fond memories of the FA Cup?
I haven’t been involved in a great cup run at senior level yet, but made it to the first round with the Under 18’s for Banbury. We played Dagenham & Redbridge at home on a Tuesday night under the lights, where we lost two-one but we gave it a really good go!
Sports Shots would like to thank both Amer and Jack for their time this week