Banbury United 0-0 Stourbridge
By Steve T
Unbeaten run continues
Banbury produced one of their best performances of the season but a lack of goals meant that only one point was taken from the visit of Stourbridge. The point gained by the opposition saw them rise to the top of the table but their manager Gary Hackett sportingly acknowledged they had been second best on the night in his post match interview with Puritans Radio.
And yet supporters would have probably taken a point prior to the game when the news of skipper Ricky Johnson's illness was delivered which, added to the absence of the injured Charlie Hawtin and Lee Henderson, meant a revised back four with Eddie Odihambo at right back, Harry Whitehead partnering Charlie Wise in the centre and Matt Taylor on the left.
Banbury attacked with pace and creativity throughout the game. On five minutes good work on the left by Amer Awadh released Ravi Shamsi and his clever back heel set up Giorgio Rasulo but his shot hit the side netting. At the other end a Callum Powell drive was fumbled by Manny Agboola but he reacted before the predatory Luke Benbow could strike.
Steve Diggin did well to pull the ball back from the right byline but Shamsi's header went wide of the left-hand post. An inswinging Shamsi free kick from the right was narrowly missed by Charlie Wise when a touch would have surely resulted in a goal. More good work by Awadh set up Shamsi who saw his shot saved by keeper Wren, who did likewise for Rasulo's follow-up and then Diggin shot just over as the Stourbridge goal led a charmed life.
After the break Banbury carried on where they had left off with Shamsi's curling effort from wide right just clearing the bar and then being denied at a tight angle by Wren. In between this at the other end a Forde crossed was met on the six yard box line by Birch but he headed straight into Agboola's arms. Hayden then hit the post with a header and Banbury supporters may have sensed the tide turning.
However there were further good chances for Kaziboni, Shamsi and Awadh all the result of a high tempo and good passing interchanges in the final third of the pitch. But the goal would not come. At the other end there were occasional scares but the (mainly) young back line repelled the Stourbridge threat well.
The team came off to a rousing reception from their supporters and the unbeaten run stretched to six games.
Banbury: 1. Emmanuel Agboola, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise (C), 6. Ravi Shamsi 10, Steve Diggin (Sub 13. John Mills 75'), 13. Amer Awadh, 15. Eddie Odhiambo, 16. Greg Kaziboni, 17. Harry Whitehead, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 2. Darius Browne, 8. Edmund Hottor, 11. Mark Bell, 20. Jamie Heapy.
Stourbridge: 1. Wren, 2. Hayden, 3. Christophorou (Sub 12. Westlake 56'), 4. McCone, 5. Pierpoint 6, Forde, 7. Powell, 8. Birch (Sub Anderson 69'), 9. Benbow, 10. Thompson-Brown (Sub 13. Broadhurst 63'), 11. Mills.
Subs not used 14. Steele, 15. Maher
Attendance – 313
Man of the Match as selected by Match Sponsors Graf – Eddie Odihambo