Alvechurch 1-1 Banbury United
By Steve T
Battling United earn a point at Alvechurch
A second game in 48 hours in warm weather and on an energy-sapping, well-grassed pitch saw both teams struggle to make an impact. A 1-1 draw was a fair result against an Alvechurch side that earned a play-off spot with the point taken from the game.
With Greg Kaziboni and Matt Richards unavailable, Lee Henderson and Amer Awadh were recalled as Banbury lined up with a 3-5-2 formation.
Banbury had an early chance when Giorgio Rasulo pounced on an error in the home defence but his shot from the edge of the area lacked the power to beat Price in the Alvechurch goal. However, on 12 minutes Banbury took the lead. A Harry Whitehead long throw on the right was back-headed across the goal by Ricky Johnson and Awadh side-footed a volley past Price into the top left-hand corner.
Alvechurch had looked lacklustre up to this stage but hit back immediately from their first meaningful attack. A cross was only half-cleared and James Roberts drove a shot high past Jack Harding from the left-hand edge of the box for the equaliser.
Banbury did not let this setback deter them and remained on the front foot. A George Nash shot was deflected wide for a corner and a Johnson back-header fell comfortably for Price.
Another dangerous free kick for the visitors was cleared quickly and Cook almost scored on a fast counter. Henderson and Johnson were both booked as the half-time whistle approached but despite Alvechurch having more possession it wasn't in areas to hurt Banbury.
Early in the second half a clever back-heel from Rasulo set Awadh away on the left but he hesitated before shooting and Price was able to block his first shot and the follow-up was hacked away.
Alvechurch came close to taking the lead a second when a colleague slipped attempting to control a long ball but it fell perfectly to Roberts whose shot from 20 yards was well saved by Harding who also foiled Botfield from distance minutes later.
Both Charlie Wise and Ricky Johnson evaded the home team's offside trap after a corner but the former headed wide from an Eddie Odihambo cross ball when Johnson was better placed.
The introduction of Tom Tonks for Alvechurch brought a new threat with huge long throws into the six-yard box from all angles but Banbury held firm with Harding producing a good save from one flicked on header.
At the other end of the pitch Johnson, who had harried the home defence all afternoon as they played around the back, intercepted a sideways pass and narrowly shot wide with a first-time effort with Price out of position. This was in the 85th minute and after that neither team was able to fashion any further chances to break the deadlock.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise, 7. Charlie Hawtin, 12. Amer Awadh, 9. Ricky Johnson, 14. Lee Henderson, 15. Eddie Odihambo (Sub 2. Edmund Hottor, 65'), 17. Harry Whitehead, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 6. Ravi Shamsi, 19. Ryan Macdonald, 20. Jamie Heapy, GK. Charlie Barnett.
Alvechurch: 1. Price. 2. T Morrison, 3. K Morrison, 4. Turton, 5. Willetts, 6. Carter, 7. Bellis, 8. Botfield, 9. Landell (Sub 14. Lloyd 80'), 10. Roberts, 11. Cook (Sub 15. Tonks 65').
Subs not used: 12. Phillips, 13. Crane, 16. Foster.
Puritans Radio Man of the Match – Amer Awadh
Attendance – 300