Banbury United 2 St Neots Town 1
Two goals from Conor McDonagh earn United three points but they are made to work hard by a spirited showing from the league strugglers
This was a game in which Banbury began to have much the better of proceedings as the quarter of an hour mark of the first half approached. In the 14th minute a Mark Bell shot from the edge of the St Neots penalty area saw Alex Archer do well to dive to his right and knock the ball away down by his post and seconds later a fierce cross in from the left side of the visitor's six yard box by Marvin Martin hit defender Taylor Parr in the centre with the ball perhaps rather fortunately for St Neots just going past the post.
However, on 22 minutes, against the general run of play, a long throw from St Neots new signing Johnny Herd down the left was only cleared out to the edge of the Banbury penalty area and Jevani Brown struck the ball low into the corner of the net to put the visitors ahead.
The half then developed into an equal affair but it was Banbury who would get the all-important next goal three minutes before the interval when Mark Bell lifted the ball through to Conor McDonagh down the left and the United striker finished competently as the visiting custodian advanced.
Two minutes into the second half and United were in front when following good work by James Smith down the right by-line saw the West Bromwich Albion loanee cross low into the centre where McDonagh was on hand to score his second of the game, this time from close range.
Just two minutes later a neat reverse pass by substitute Zac McEachran sent McDonagh through down the left hand side of the St Neots penalty area and he did exceptionally well to shrug off a couple of challenges and take the ball inside before then firing just over the bar.
Almost immediately though St Neots went close to equalising when Declan Rogers shot just over the bar from the edge of the Banbury penalty area and thirty seconds later the visitors had a strong appeal for a penalty when Harding came out attempting to gather a mis-directed header from Luke Carnell and clattered into Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson but referee Sarah Garrett was unmoved.
In the 62nd minute an attempted clearance by St Neots defender Tom Wood midway inside his own half hit Michael Hyem on the back, the ball rebounding back towards the goal with McEachran nipping in and taking the ball down the right side of the penalty area but as the custodian came out to narrow the angle the Banbury midfielder's shot from a narrow angle eight yards out hit the side netting
St Neots certainly had their fair share of the ball in the last 30 minutes and Banbury had to defend well to preserve their lead but preserve it they did and the three points moves Banbury up into the play-off places, now into fifth place.
The result was overall rather harsh on the visitors, certainly they did not look like a side fighting a relegation battle and were rather unfortunate not to have got something out of this game.
Banbury United: Jack Harding, Jack Westbrook, Andy Gunn, George Nash, Luke Carnell, Eddie Odhiambo (Sam Humphreys 64), Callum White, Mark Bell (Zac McEachran 46), Conor McDonagh, James Smith (Martin Asiedu Ofosu 66), Marvin Martin. Subs (not used): Jacob Blackstock, Jack Self.
St Neots Town: Alex Archer, Charlie Day, Johnny Herd, Jonny Butler, Tom Wood, Taylor Parr, Jevani Brown, Michael Hyem, Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson, Pete Clark (Lee Clarke 80), Declan Rogers. Subs (not used): Nassim L’Ghoul, Harry Norman, Sam Piesse.