Banbury United 1-2 Hitchin Town
By Steve T
United end the season on a disappointing note
Substitute Ezra Forde grabbed the late winner as Hitchin Town came from behind to beat the Puritans 2-1 in Saturday's final premier division central game at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.
Amer Awadh gave United the early lead which Isaac Galliford cancelled out before the break and Forde hit the winner for the visitors.
Manager Mike Ford brought Matt Richards and Greg Kaziboni back into the starting line-up
Following an even opening, United broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when a neat move ended with Giorgio Rasulo advancing before releasing Awadh in the box and he beat Michael Johnson from ten yards.
United went close to doubling their advantage when Kaziboni turned well in the box but Johnson palmed his snap-shot over the bar. Max Ryan fired over from 25 yards but Hitchin found it difficult to create openings.
But Hitchin equalised in the 36th minute with a goal out of the blue when Galliford beat Jack Harding with a superb strike from 35 yards which flew into the net despite the strong wind being against him.
Both sides went close after the restart. Matt Taylor and Awadh combined well on the left to set up Rasulo whose close-range effort was hacked off the line by Josh Bickerstaff. At the other end Ryan saw his 20-yard effort turned around the post by Harding.
United went close to regaining the lead when Kaziboni won possession from Al-Amin Kazeem on the right flank, got into the box and crossed to the far post where Ricky Johnson could only head against the post.
United twice went close in quick succession. Rasulo's corner kick came back to him and his low shot was blocked, the rebound fell to Awadh who saw his effort deflected wide by Johnson's outstretched leg.
But after that both sides struggled to create decent openings and Hitchin had the better of them. Scott Belgrove's lob beat Harding but went wide. Galliford tried his luck from range again but this time Harding was equal to it and the United keeper also saved well from Belgrove.
United enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked the final pass when it mattered in the final third and their attacks petered out.
The visitors won it in the 84th minute when Galliford's low cross was met by Forde in the six-yard box, his close-range effort was saved by Harding but the ball rebounded on to the Hitchin substitute and over the helpless United keeper.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash, 5. Charlie Wise, 7. Charlie Hawtin, 12. Amer Awadh, 8. Matt Richards, 9. Ricky Johnson, 16. Greg Kaziboni (Sub 14. Lee Henderson. 90'), 17. Harry Whitehead, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 2. Edmund Hottor, 15. Eddie Odihambo, 20. Jamie Heapy, GK. Charlie Barnett.
Hitchin: 1. Michael Johnson, 2. Alex Anderson, 3. Al-Amin Kazeem, 4. Max Ryan, 5. Dan Webb, 6. Josh Bickerstaff, 7. Jack Green, 8. Scott Belgrove, 9. Charlie Thake (Sub 12. Ezra Forde, 42'), 10. Isaac Galliford, 11. Jay Bird.
Subs not used: 13. Edwin Mensah, 14. Matt Nolan, 15. Jack Thomas, 16. Nathan Mullings.
Man of the Match as selected by Match Sponsors SMR Projects/Xypex
Attendance – 421
Source – Banbury Guardian