St. Neots Town 0-3 Banbury United
By Steve T
Comfortable victory banishes relegation worries
After a winless away league run that stretched back 15 matches to mid-September, Banbury finally picked up three points on their travels with a 3-0 win at St Neots.
Going into the game there was a nine-point gap between the teams with St Neots occupying the top relegation place so this was a definitive six-pointer. A commanding performance saw Banbury extend the gap to 12 points with five games remaining.
Lee Henderson remained unavailable after suffering concussion a fortnight ago but Charlie Hawtin returned after a month out with injury. Manager Mike Ford selected Greg Kaziboni and Joe Iaciofano together for the first time and their interplay was key to Banbury's win.
Banbury could not have got off to a better start. An early chance from a long ball was put wide by Kaziboni but he made amends with a good run into the box to release Iaciofano who lobbed the advancing St Neots keeper Philip to give Banbury a sixth minute lead.
Three minutes later and it was 2-0…for about two minutes. A Giorgio Rasulo corner on the left was played back to him, the referee indicated a corner with his arm but didn't blow, the ball did not go out of play and Rasulo advanced to drill the ball home. Having checked with his linesman the referee awarded the goal. St Neots were incensed and although the ball was back on the centre-spot the referee decided on a second opinion from his colleague and this time ruled a corner.
Despite the setback Banbury continued to press. Ricky Johnson gave the home team's young defenders a torrid afternoon and Kaziboni and Iaciofano created a hatful of chances for each other, all of them falling narrowly short. With half time approaching a 1-0 lead looked scant reward for a dominant display and Jack Harding had to alert to save a Pollock free-kick. However, the crucial second came in injury time, Kaziboni again the provider for Johnson to head home powerfully from close range.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with Banbury seeing a lot of the ball and St Neots, stifled in midfield, reduced to long balls easily dealt with by Charlie Wise and Harry Whitehead.
Kaziboni, Johnson and Iaciofano all had chances to net a third before Johnson wrapped things up with his second goal of the game on 63 minutes. Iaciofano was again involved, winning possession on the left-hand side and advancing into the box before squaring the ball to Johnson who side-footed it home from 15 yards.
After this Banbury were content to control the game and see it out for a professional win in front of a good number of appreciative travelling fans. A bonus was the first clean sheet in the league since the turn of the year.
St Neots: 1. Philip, 2. Hood, 3. Norville-Williams, 4. Miles, 5. Hughes, 6. Shaw (Sub 16. Dunnett 65'), 7. Bradley, 8. Pollock, 9. Wharton, 10. Sutton (Sub 15. Mutswunguma 61'), 11. Trendall (Sub 14. Joseph 61').
Subs not used: 12. Rhiney, 16. Clarke.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash (sub 15. Eddie Odihambo 85'), 5. Charlie Wise, 7. Charlie Hawtin, 8. Matt Richards, 9. Ricky Johnson, 10. Joe Iaciofano (Sub 6. Ravi Shamsi '65), 16. Greg Kaziboni (Sub 12. Amer Awadh 81'), 17. Harry Whitehead, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 11. Josue Antonio, 20. Jack Finch.
Man of the Match as selected by Puritans Radio – Ricky Johnson
Attendance – 260
Photo: Ricky Johnson scores Banbury's second