Banbury United 1 Hitchin Town 1
United keep their play-off hopes alive but have to settle for a point against Hitchin
The first half saw few opportunities for either side. In the 15th minute a 25 yard shot from Hitchin's Robbie Burns was straight at Jack Harding in the Banbury goal and at the midway point of the half the same player made room for a shot from a couple of yards inside the Banbury penalty area but again the effort was comfortably saved by Harding.
Banbury's first opening did not come until the 28th minute but George Nash's effort from the edge of the Hitchin penalty area went well wide. In the 39th minute a lofted through ball down the centre from Jack Self put Conor McDonagh away down the left inside the Hitchin penalty area but from a narrow angle the United striker failed to connect properly with his left foot shot as the custodian came out to narrow the angle.
Though Banbury had not looked very likely to make the breakthrough they would nevertheless do so a minute before the interval when Zac McEachran picked up a throw from down the right by Eddie Odhiambo and then took the ball inside, getting the better of Dan Webb before striking the ball past Michael Johnson in the Hitchin goal at his near post.
Banbury were improved early in the second half. Seven minutes into this period McEachran wriggled his way free down the right to centre the ball where Ricky Johnson rose above the Hitchin defence to get his head to the ball first but the header went wide. Two minutes later a corner from the right by Tom Winters saw Luke Carnell's header punched away by the visiting custodian with the ball then coming back into the centre and Johnson firing just wide from 25 yards.
However, as the half developed further Hitchin began to put Banbury under some pressure with the home side having to defend well to keep the visitors out.
Despite now looking more likely to score Hitchin didn't trouble Harding and on 70 minutes there was a chance for Tom Winters when he was put through by McEachran down the left which was well saved by Johnson with the visiting custodian's namesake in the Banbury side shooting the loose ball over the bar from just outside the penalty area.
But Hitchin continued to press and look for the equaliser and on 81 minutes a Robbie Burns shot fell to Jonny McNamara in space 15 yards out and he made no mistake firing the ball past Jack Harding to even up the score.
Though Banbury had opportunities to double their lead early in the second half which were not taken, overall Hitchin fought back well in the second half and on the balance of play it was a fair result.
Banbury are now three points behind Merthyr Town and Slough Town and four behind Hitchin Town and need to overhaul one of them, with all sides having two games to play, if they are to sneak into a play-off place.
Banbury United: Jack Harding, Eddie Odhiambo, Marvin Martin, George Nash, Jack Westbrook, Luke Carnell, Zac McEachran, Jack Self, Ricky Johnson, Conor McDonagh (Manny Duku 74), Tom Winters (Tom Bradbury 84). Subs (not used): Mark Bell, Darius Browne, Jacob Blackstock.
Hitchin Town: Michael Johnson, Kane Smith (Jonny McNamara 65), Ban Walster (Matt Lench 55), Jay Dowie, Dan Webb, Will Wright, Lewis Rolfe, Lucas Kirkpatrick, Brett Donnelly (Liam Brooks 46), Robbie Burns, Bickerstaff. Subs (not used): Mason Spence, Michael King.