Hednesford Town travel to runaway league leaders Banbury United this afternoon hoping to put a temporary halt to their undoubted route to the Southern Premier League Central Division title.
The Puritans have been the best team to visit Keys Park this season and they put on a scintillating first half display at Keys Park on a Tuesday night in December when they went in at half time 2-0 up but probably should have been four or five goals to the good. The Pitmen rallied in the second half and goals from George Cater and Ben Bailey levelled matters, before Banbury showed the class of champions with a 93rd minute winner from Morgan Roberts in what was a terrific encounter.
This is the Pitmen’s seventh away league games out of the last eight and they are now on a mini run of two unbeaten games after the recent 3-3 away draw at Tamworth was followed up by a 1-0 win at Lowestoft last Saturday. Banbury are a massive 20 points ahead of third placed Rushall Olympic with just seven games to play and 17 points ahead of nearest challengers Coalville Town, who have two games in hand. Banbury need just 11 points from those last seven games to win the title, even if Coalville win their last nine remaining games. This represents a formidable task facing the Pitmen in Oxfordshire this afternoon, with the home side having won eight of their 11 league games since the New Year and made a televised appearance in the first round of the FA Cup in November.
The last time we travelled to Banbury was Tuesday 29th September 2020 when the Pitmen lost 2-0, had Danny Glover sent off for clearing the ball from the goal line with his hand, and that ended the short reign of Andy Morrell as the manager of Hednesford Town, who left seven days later.
Banbury have lost just two league games this season but those were against teams who were, at the time, in the bottom six in the league, a 2-1 defeat at St Ives in December and a 2-1 home defeat by Redditch in January. They have conceded the least amount of goals in the league and scored the most apart from Peterborough. The Puritans have attracted just fewer than 1,000 fans to each of their last two home games as the promotion momentum builds.
Banbury have one of the top three leading goalscorers in the division with Chris Wreh on 17 league goals. He is an excellent striker who has troubled us in the past when playing for Stratford and Rushden and is the son of former Arsenal striker Christopher Wreh. Fellow strikers Henry Landers and Jack Stevens have scored ten and nine league goals each, and attacking midfielder Morgan Roberts has also scored ten, including that winner at Keys Park earlier this season. Their manager Andy Whing was appointed in May 2020 and is a former professional having made 346 appearances in the EFL mainly for Coventry, Brighton and Oxford.
It is likely to be a fantastic atmosphere with a larger than average crowd hoping to see the Puritans take another step to the title but with the Pitmen’s George Cater in fine form it could be an excellent afternoon of football.
Ground address: The Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium, Station Approach, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 5AB