Banbury United 1 Kettering Town 2
Despite Manny Duku scoring from the penalty spot midway through the second half to draw level, United's season ended with a narrow defeat.
It was a much changed United side that took on the Poppies with starting places for those who had spent recent games on the bench.
Kettering went close in just the second minute when Rene Howe shot just wide from a cross by Ben Baker. Three minutes later Banbury’s Zac McEachran shot just wide from the edge of the Kettering penalty area.
However, Kettering would take the lead in the 12th minute. A corner from the left taken by James Brighton was headed away by Tom Bradbury in the centre of the six yard box but only as far as Ben Baker 15 yards out who had time to bring the ball down and then striker it powerfully into the top corner of the net.
In the 16th minute a corner from the right taken by Darius Browne went right across a crowded six yard box with the incoming Manny Duku just failing to get a touch. Three minutes later Sam Humphreys ran in from the right before shooting wide from the edge of the Kettering penalty area.
Just after the half hour mark a short corner on the left and inter-passing between Darius Browne and Zac McEachran saw the latter’s fierce shot from a narrow angle parried away by Paul White in the Kettering goal and then hacked clear by a defender.
But in the 37th minute Kettering should certainly have doubled their lead when a cross from the left by James Hall found Aaron O’Connor unchallenged in the six yard box but with the goal at his mercy he totally mistimed his header and the ball went well wide, causing many of the Kettering fans behind the Town End goal to put their head in their hands in disbelief.
In the 40th minute Harding almost gifted the visitors a second goal when he completely miskicked as he attempted to clear a back pass and was being closed down by James Brighton. But the Banbury custodian redeemed himself by saving at the feet of the Kettering player.
A minute before the interval Harding and Howe went up for a long bouncing ball together midway inside the Banbury penalty area with the Banbury goalkeeper coming off worse in the collision and requiring treatment. Howe had knocked the ball into the empty net but the referee deemed that Harding had been fouled by the Kettering striker so it remained 1-0 to Kettering at the interval.
In the second minute of the second half Banbury went close to equalising when McEachran went on a typical run through the middle, evading tackles, before passing across to Sam Humphreys whose shot from the edge of the Poppies penalty area went narrowly wide.
Chances for either side dried up at this point but the introduction of substitute Tom Winters on 64 minute saw him immediately fire a free-kick just over the bar and then in the 70th minute earn United a penalty when he went on a storming run from the half way line before being brought down just inside the penalty area by Dominic Langdon. Manny Duku stepped up to convert the spot-kick low to the goalkeeper's left.
Though Kettering did not pose much of a threat as the half ground towards a conclusion, they would win the game in the 83rd minute when Bradbury’s back pass fell short and O’Connor nipped in to round the United keeper and roll the ball into an empty net to condemn United to a rather harsh defeat on the final day of the season.
Banbury United: Jack Harding, Jacob Blackstock, Tom Bradbury, George Nash, Jack Westbrook, Luke Carnell (captain), Sam Humphreys (Tom Winters 64), Jack Self, Manny Duku (Ricky Johnson 78), Zac McEachran, Darius Browne (Conor McDonagh 78). Subs (not used): Marvin Martin, Eddie Odhiambo.
Kettering Town: Paul White, Liam Bateman, James Brighton, Brett Solkhon, Dominic Langdon (James Haran 78), Gary Mulligan (Jack Kelly 58), Ben Baker, Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, James Hall, Nathan Hicks (Jorrin John 67). Subs (not used): Callum Willimont.