Oxford United 3 Banbury United 2
By David Shadbolt
A goal from Jordan Graham in the final minute of extra time puts Oxford United through to final of Oxfordshire Senior Cup
A much changed Banbury United side were denied a place in the final of the Senior Cup by a young Oxford United side that showed a lot of effort and commitment and in the end snatched victory in the last minute of extra time.
Banbury began the better of the two sides and in the sixth minute Manny Duku bustled his way through down the right hand edge of the Oxford United penalty area before letting fly with a fierce shot from a narrow angle which went over the bar. Four minutes later Duku shot again from a similar position, this time his low shot forced Niall Clayton in the Oxford goal into a save.
Banbury continued to have more possession as the half developed further without troubling Clayton but after the mid-way point of the half Oxford United came more into the game and it became more even. In the 28th minute an Albie Hopkins shot from the edge of the Banbury penalty area down the left saw Jasko Keranovic make the save. Then in the 36th minute Aaron Heap’s decent shot from the edge of the area down the left brought out a good save from Keranovic.
Five minutes into the second half and Banbury went so close to taking the lead when a cross from the left by Marvin Martin saw Duku head the ball from eight yards against the crossbar. Just before the hour mark a 25 yard effort from Darius Browne went just wide.
However, the half developed into an equal affair and Oxford United would take the lead in the 68th minute when a poor back pass from Jack Westbrook was intercepted by Jordan Graham who competently stroked the ball home from six yards past Keranovic. Three minutes later it was close to being 2-0 when a quick break from a Banbury attack led to a chance for James Cowan who was very unlucky to see his shot from the edge of the penalty area down the right hit the far post.
However, in the 74th minute Banbury would equalise when Martin’s shot from 20 yards fell to substitute Conor McDonagh 12 yards out who then turned sharply before firing the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Banbury now began to dominate the game and look likely to get a second goal. In the 79th minute Darius Browne did very well down the left to wriggle his way into a goal scoring opportunity inside the Oxford United penalty area but he was then very unfortunate to see his shot across the goal go just inches wide of the far post. But a second goal always looked likely for Banbury and it arrived just four minutes later when good play down the right finished with Eddie Odhiambo passing low into the centre where the incoming Duku was on hand to knock the ball home from close range to score his first goal for the club.
A minute from time a free kick from a central position just outside the Banbury penalty area was superbly tipped over the bar by Keranovic but from the resultant corner the ball bobbled around the edge of the six yard box and was headed goalwards by Graham with Charlie Hawtin getting the final touch to send the game into extra time.
Eight minutes into the first period of extra time McDonagh shot from 18 yards which brought out a decent save by Clayton as Banbury dominated the play and pushed forward in search of a third goal. Three minutes later a cross from Sam Humphreys down the right from the by-line was headed against the crossbar by Duku, the loose ball then came out to Odhiambo whose shot from 12 yards was hacked off the line by a defender. Right at the end of the first period of extra time a cross from the right by Adrian Boitos saw McDonagh shoot just over the bar from a narrow angle on the edge of the six yard box at the near post. Banbury had created all the opportunities in the first period of extra time but it remained 2-2 at the turnaround.
Midway through the second period of extra time Oxford United’s Matt Berry-Hargreaves made a superb off the line clearance from a McDonagh lofted shot which looked sure to find its way over the line before the defender’s heroics to get back and clear the ball.
The match looked destined for penalties but in the last minute of extra time an Oxford United corner from the right was only partially cleared and when the ball was put back into the Banbury penalty area it fell to Graham in plenty of space who fired the ball home from eight yards to win the game much to the delight of his teammates.
Overall, Banbury had enough chances to have won this game rather comfortably but one has to give credit to the very young Oxford United side who were full of effort, enthusiasm and commitment and they would in the end get their reward for that.
Oxford United: Niall Clayton, Charlie Hawtin, Charlie Tuttle, Nathan Baker, Matt Berry-Hargreaves, Aaron Head, Graham Bryan, James Cowan, Jordan Graham, Albie Hopkins, Ben Chilcott. Subs (None used): Shandon Baptiste, Malachi Napa, Dan Carr.
Banbury United: Jasko Keranovic, Jacob Blackstock, Marvin Martin, Eddie Odhiambo, Jack Westbrook, Tom Bradbury, Mark Bell (Conor McDonagh 63), Jack Self (George Nash 74), Manny Duku, Sam Humphreys, Darius Browne (Adrian Boitos 86). Subs (not used): Jack Harding, Luke Carnell.