An enthralling encounter between Hednesford Town and Banbury United at Keys Park saw a game of two halves, a superb fightback and ultimately heartbreak for the Pitmen. Banbury, flying high in second place looked ponderous in the opening minutes as Ben Bailey forced a low save from Ben Taylor. The visitors moved up a gear, opening the scoring in the 10th minute when Jack Stevens’ strike from inside the box found the back of the net. Four minutes later Stevens doubled the advantage scoring with a freekick from the edge of the area. Lewis Ison sent a Pitmen freekick inches over the cross bar, while Oliver Basey made a superb save followed by a vital interception outside of his area.
George Cater pulled a goal back minutes after the restart with a tricky run into the box, completed with an emphatic finish. The Pitmen enjoyed a flurry of possession after the goal, with Cater denied a second goal by Taylor. A Pitmen corner was worked back to Reece Flanagan whose inviting cross was met by a thumping header from skipper Ben Bailey to equalise and spark jubilant scenes in the Heath Hayes End. Up until the 80th minute the Pitmen remained in the ascendency before the Puritans showed their quality and moved up yet another gear. The home goal looked like it was leading a charmed life as the woodwork and Basey kept the score level. A series of Banbury corners and freekicks came and went, a skirmish broke out in the 90th minute for which Flanagan and Reece Williams were booked. Banbury had the last word in the third minute of stoppage time when Morgan Roberts broke through the defence, scoring with an angled shot, to see off a spirited fightback from the Pitmen.
Hednesford Town; Basey, Atkinson, Armitage, Bailey, Endall, Richards (Flanagan 46), Cater, Ison, O’Sullivan (Landell 75), Parker, Lycett (Tilt 56). Subs not used; Riley, Clarkson.
Banbury United; Taylor, C Roberts, Brown, Babos, Langmead, Williams, Stevens (Finch 71), Rasulo, Landers, M Roberts (Reilly 90+4), Acquaye (Johnson 71). Subs not used; Maher, Wreh.