Banbury United 1 Ardley United 0
By Steve T
Single goal sees Puritans into Senior Cup final
Banbury progressed to the final of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup with a hard fought win over Hellenic League Ardley United, who matched them for a lot of the game. It was a competitive game on a challenging surface. With injuries mounting up and Edmund Hottor suspended, resources were stretched. Prudence Anaele made his debut at right back, Eddie Odihambo switched to the left and Ryan Macdonald got his first start alongside Ricky Johnson up front.
Banbury had a great chance in the first minute when a deep cross from the left fell to the unmarked Ricky Johnson on the edge of the six yard box but he put his shot wide.
Neither side were able to find much cohesion but Ardley won a free kick at the top of the penalty area and Jack Harding had to be alert to push the shot past the left hand post.
Most of Banbury's threat in the final third came from Amer Awadh but his trademark dribbling was nullified by the surface. He shot across the six yard box after a run down the right and then earned a corner which Ravi Shamsi took and Johnson headed past the right hand upright. Another Awadh run on the right side of the box saw him shoot over from a narrow angle.
Half-time arrived and the game was goalless. Early in the second half Jamie Heapy made a rare appearance on for Anaele and Joe Iaciafano replaced Ryan Macdonald who had worked hard up front. There wasn't much action outside of the middle third although Ardley fashioned a chance that saw a shot from fifteen yards out beaten away by Harding.
The crucial goal came on 65 minutes. George Nash did well and set up Ravi Shamsi on the left but he was blocked. Nash recycled the ball and fed it to Jack Finch who drove a shot home from just outside of the area.
Banbury continued to press and should have had a second when Awadh's good work set up Ravi Shamsi who burst through a crowded penalty area but then screwed his shot wide from six yards. A long ball from Charlie Wise saw Johnson and Iaciofano clear but the latter overran the ball into the keeper.
With time running out Ardley threw men forward. Their cause was not helped when the referee refused to allow a substitute to come on, claiming he was not on the teamsheet. A late Ardley corner saw a header go just wide but the final whistle followed to see Banbury progress to a final against either Oxford City or North Leigh who play their tie at Banbury on Wednesday 3rd April.
Ardley: 1. Lawrence, 2. Griffiths, 3. Gabbidon, 4. Giles, 5. Jenkins, 6. West, 7. Gillett (Sub 14. Yusuf 75'), 8. McKirnan, 9. Smith, 10. Moore, 11. Harris (Sub 15. Feaver 75').
Subs not used: 12.Egden, 13. Mingard, 16. Bryan.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise, 6. Ravi Shamsi, 9. Ricky Johnson, 11. Prudence Anaele (Sub 13. Jamie Heapy, 55'), 12. Amer Awadh, 15. Eddie Odihambo, 17. Harry Whitehead, 19. Ryan Macdonald (Sub 10. Joe Iaciofano, 62'), 20. Jack Finch.
Subs not used: GK. Charlie Barnett, 3. Anton Sambrook.
Man of the Match as selected by Puritans Radio – Amer Awad
Attendance – 187
Photo – Jack Finch strikes Banbury's winner.