Banbury United 3 Hook Norton 0
United advance to Oxfordshire Senior Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Hook Norton
United manager Mike Ford opted to give West Bromwich Albion loanee goalkeeper Jasko Keranovic, signed just before the transfer deadline last month as cover for Jack Harding, an outing. There were also starting places for all five of the players who had been on the bench at the start of Saturday's game against Cambridge City.
The first quarter of an hour of the game was fairly equal but rather uneventful but at this point United began to get on top. In the 15th minute a 22 yard shot from Mark Bell went just wide. In the 19th minute Darius Browne tried his luck from a similar distance but his powerful shot was comfortably held by the well positioned Kurt Fox. A minute later a corner from the left taken by Mark Bell saw Ricky Johnson head just over. Then in the 23rd minute Johnson shot across goal from a narrow angle on the left a few yards inside the Hook Norton penalty area but the ball drifted wide of the far post.
Though Banbury were creating opportunities, Hook Norton could well have taken the lead in the 24th minute when Steve Howkins won the ball off Jack Westbrook midway inside the Hooky half down the left before taking it to the edge of the Banbury penalty area and shooting just inches wide of the far post.
However, three minutes later and United got the goal that they had been threatening when a low cross in from the right by Ricky Johnson was cleared straight back to him by Sean Snelling, the United striker putting the ball straight back low across the six yard box where James Smith at the far post knocked the ball home from close range.
Just two minutes later and it was 2-0 when good inter-play between Smith and Darius Browne just outside the Hook Norton penalty area then saw the latter do well to make room for a shot from the edge of the area on the left, the ball going low across Kurt Fox in the Hook Norton goal into the far corner of the net.
The last fifteen minutes of the first half would see Hook Norton have their best spell of the game. A shot from 12 yards by Dan Reeves and from 20 yards by the lively Joe Eyre forced Keranovic into saves though neither were particularly troublesome. Two minutes before half time a shot/cross by Nathan Bott from out wide on the right saw Keranovic back-peddling and tipping the ball over the crossbar for a corner and then from the resultant flag-kick the ball was cleared out only as far as Charlie Hill whose shot from almost 30 yards saw the Banbury custodian do well to dive full length to his right to tip the ball away round the post for another corner.
The second half saw Banbury always looking basically in control of the game.
In the 55th minute a corner from the left taken by Bell caused havoc in the Hook Norton six yard box with Browne's effort being saved by Fox and then an almighty scramble followed with two shots by Zac McEachran being blocked on the line by defenders before Dan Watkin was able to bring the ball away.
In the 66th minute a high cross from the right by Bell saw Fox make a point blank save from a Johnson header. However, three minutes later United got their third goal when Browne was upended right on the edge of the Hook Norton penalty area. The referee deemed it was on the line so awarded a penalty. Ricky Johnson converted the spot-kick.
A quarter of an hour from the end Hook Norton should have pulled a goal back when Jack Westbrook mistimed a tackle and brought Joe Eyre down five yards inside the Banbury penalty area on the left by-line. Reece Bayliss stepped up to take the spot-kick but United debutant goalkeeper Jasko Keranovic made an excellent save diving low to his right to knock the ball away down by the post.
United went close to extending their lead twice in the 88th minute. Firstly good play between McEachran and Eddie Odhiambo saw the latter through on goal but Fox spread himself well to save the United man's effort with his legs, the ball then being cleared out to Smith on the penalty spot but the visiting custodian excelled himself once more saving the West Bromwich Albion loanee's shot.
Hook Norton: Kurt Fox, Nathan Bott, James Peppiatt, Sean Snelling, Dan Watkin, Charlie Hill, Niall Higgins, Steve Howkins, Dan Reeves, Henry Rose, Joe Eyre. Subs (Used): Reece Bayliss, Lloyd Sabin, James McMahon, Subs (not used): Pete Moulder, Matty Keenan.
Banbury United: Jasko Keranovic, Jack Westbrook, Tom Bradbury, George Nash, Andy Gunn, Eddie Odhiambo, Mark Bell, Sam Humphreys, Ricky Johnson (Jack Self 72), James Smith (Zac McEachran 52), Darius Browne (Callum White 84). Subs (not used): Marvin Martin, Jack Harding.