Banbury v City

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Saturday 2nd November 2002
Spencer Stadium 

   Banbury United v CITY

FA Trophy 1st Round

City's Team

This was an entertaining cup tie between two well matched teams who both tried to play some good football despite the relentless rain and a deteriorating pitch.

City were buoyed by the news that a back injury was to confine the much-hyped Norman Sylla to the subs bench, Banbury's prolific striker being in stark contrast to City's injury hit attack. One of our number of crocked forwards did make it to the pitch though, with a heavily strapped Karl Bayliss passing a late fitness test to join Lee Smith up front.

City started by far the better, attacking the goal behind where most of the crowd were huddled for shelter in Banbury's one bit of covered standing. City broke well down the left with Harris, Burns and Mustoe all combining well to force an early corner. Banbury looked a little unsettled and soon afterwards an under hit back pass saw Lee Smith go close to nipping the ball from their keeper.

City put together some excellent moves in the first 20 minutes with the pace of Lee Smith a useful outlet. Twice the young forward got down the right flank and put in excellent crosses, both causing some consternation for Banbury and one of them only narrowly missing Wilko's head. City were also at this point firmly in charge of the midfield with Mustoe and Burns breaking up play and pushing the ball around with some degree of comfort. 

Banbury were no mugs though and tried to push behind our full-backs as soon as we lost possession. One of these attacks produced a good cross from our right which saw Bath well positioned to block the resulting header. Griffiths was again showing his best form and put himself about with a few crunching tackles that reminded the Banbury forward line they had a difficult obstacle to overcome in order to score. 

City then had to reshuffle after Chris Thompson trudged off the pitch after a tackle, apparently less injured than feeling the effects of a viral infection. He was replaced by Tom Webb down the right and the youngster was quickly involved. Good work by Baylo and Mustoe on the left wing resulted in a deep cross that eluded their keeper and seemed destined for Webb's head at the far post. However a Banbury defender stuck up a hand to flick it away. Somehow the ref, otherwise having a good afternoon, missed what should have been a City penalty. 

City continued to dominate possession and eventually the goal came. Webb raced clear on to a Burns through ball and seemed to get caught in two minds as he chose between shooting and trying to carry the ball round the considerable girth of the Banbury keeper. He ended up with a scuffed shot that fell into the path of Karl Bayliss who rolled the ball in for his first City goal of the season.

City's joy was tempered by an episode that detracted from an entertaining game. As City celebrated their goal three people ran onto the pitch, one cretin going as far as to confront the referee. It then emerged the same contingent had earlier been involved in racially abusing Norman Sylla as he warmed up on the touchline. Banbury called the police and at half-time six of those involved were ejected by Thames Valley police. It was an embarrassing moment for most of the City fans who'd travelled.   

Back on the pitch the goal seemed to spur Banbury into action and they put together some concerted pressure as they sought to level things. While they pushed and harried they couldn't create an opening, Griff and Mustoe both putting in excellent block challenges to keep them at bay.

The second half saw Norman Sylla take to the pitch and it wasn't long before you could see what all the fuss was about. He accelerated past Steadman with ease only for the bemused defender to catch his trailing leg. From the following free kick it was the tall forward who came closest to connecting, but he was well shepherded by Neil Griffiths. City now looked to be severely under the cosh with Sylla's appearance clearly lifting Banbury. Bath was forced to make a good save and then saw an effort from distance fly past his post.

On 58 minutes the equaliser came from a predictable source. City failed to clear after a mis-hit goal kick and the ball was prodded through to Sylla who burst onto it and rounded Matt Bath before rolling the ball into the net. Sadly the reaction of a few of the Banbury fans showed that we are not alone in having a minority of idiots amongst us. 

For a few minutes it seemed that City would be engulfed as Banbury swarmed forward, but Steadman and Griffiths withstood what was thrown at them. The game then opened up as City were able to respond with their own attacks, the last 20 minutes saw plenty of chances at either end. Sylla made several strong runs and looked sharp, but he was well marshalled by Griff. The forward, fresh from a week's trial at Brentford, was able to roll a lay-off back to Blossom but his shot from outside the box went wide.

A few minutes later Banbury wasted a golden chance to take the lead as a cross from the right looped over Matt Bath and found a Banbury player unmarked in the six yard box. Somehow he contrived to put the ball into the side netting, to general disbelief all round. Banbury did better with a couple of other efforts, and saw a free kick skim the crossbar having been confidently left by Matt Bath. Otherwise Banbury were finding it difficult to release Sylla and Bath was equal to the shots they managed. City then lost Jenks with an ankle knock, but re-organised with Burns dropping back.

While not having the majority of possession City managed to create the better chances as the game came to an end. Neil Mustoe was still a constant probing threat and he was unlucky when he raced on to a one-two and put his shot just wide. Minutes later good work from Mustoe put in Lee Smith and his low cross was fluffed by Tom Webb. Right at the death a further good run by Webb sent Wilkinson clean through on goal, only to see keeper Simon Tricker make an excellent block from close range.

A good battle ended in a fair draw and both sets of fans will look forward to a repeat display in Tuesday night's replay at Meadow Park. It was a shame that the entertainment on the pitch seems destined to be forgotten amidst the moronic behaviour of a few.  

(HT: 1-0)




Jenkins Bookings
Burns Smith
Wilkinson n/a

(for 2; 22)
(for 6; 79)


not named


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