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

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