Banbury 2nd XI 2 – 2 Sonning 1st XI
Unlucky Sonning fall just short after a quality display
Sonning were disappointed to drop 2 points in the last minute of their clash away at Banbury 2nd XI, but their performance merits real cause for optimism in the run-up to Christmas.
Following a forgettable performance at home to South Berkshire 1s the week prior, Sonning made the arduous away trip to Banbury for what is always a tough fixture. Missing just Jonty Rider from their ranks, the squad was at almost full strength, with Chris Hinton making a return to midfield and Noel Plant appearing in the front line.
As is their trademark on a good day, Sonning came out the traps like a steam train, and in the opening 10 minutes their opponents were given no time on the ball and penned in their own half. Looking dangerous down both wings, a breakthrough came fairly quickly with Ian Gallagher winning and smartly taking a free hit on the left wing, before sending in driven ball to the p-spot where Sonning forwards were queuing up for the touch. Noel Plant got the deflection on his return from injury, confidently turning the ball skywards and into the roof of the net for 0-1.
The rest of the half was a more even affair, with Banbury working their way into the game through some of their older and craftier players. Their cynical breakdowns of play went unpunished and they did a professional job of breaking their opponents rhythm. However, the Sonning backline were rarely threatened and, to a man, stuck to their tasks admirably to keep the clean sheet in-tact at the break.
Sonning took a few minutes to come out of the blocks at the half and were punished when a late challenge on a Banbury forward led to a penalty stroke, which was well converted for 1-1.
In some matches this season, Sonning may have lost their heads here, but today their resolve was strong and they rallied well. At times the game became physical, and tempers ran high, but Sonning stuck to task and looked the more dangerous side. They deservedly re-took the lead with only 5 minutes to play, through Ian Gallagher, converting a short corner for 1-2.
The last 5 minutes became a siege however, and while not pretty, Banbury were effective in keeping possession. They won a penalty corner almost exactly at full time, and it was converted with the last touch of the game for 2-2. It felt harsh on the away side, but while a sickening blow at the time, Sonning can reflect on a positive performance. It may feel like 2 points dropped, but a point on the road is always hard earned, so there is cause for optimism in their next few encounters.
Next up Oxford Hawks visit the Doom Bar Arena (re-naming still underway) - 18th November, 12pm start #COTN
Goalscorers: Ian Gallagher, Noel Plant
MOTM: Jimmy Manser
DOTD: Matt Sloper