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Controversial penalty hands Southern Premier Central leaders Banbury United 1-0 victory over spirited Stratford Town



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A DETERMINED and well-drilled Stratford Town gave a good account of themselves against Southern Premier Central leaders Banbury United on Monday, with a controversial 40th-minute penalty ultimately separating the two sides, reports Kevin Hand.

Stratford Town players surround referee Liam Corbett after he awards Banbury United a penalty following a collision between goalkeeper Murphy Mahoney and striker Chris Wreh. Photo: Steve Wood & Paul Grant / STFC
Stratford Town players surround referee Liam Corbett after he awards Banbury United a penalty following a collision between goalkeeper Murphy Mahoney and striker Chris Wreh. Photo: Steve Wood & Paul Grant / STFC

With Jordan Williams unavailable, Jack Turner returned to the centre of Stratford’s defence, while Jack Storer found himself on the bench as Tim Flowers favoured four in midfield. Meanwhile, former Bards forward Chris Wreh started for the Puritans.

Both sides went close in the first ten minutes, with Connor Roberts firing over from distance for the hosts while Ashley Sammons replied in a similar fashion almost immediately.

Banbury and Stratford struggled with the conditions of rain, wind and the greasy playing surface, and for 90 minutes there was little in the way of fluent football.

Although the Puritans dominated possession, they were forced to shoot from distance and Murphy Mahoney was equal to everything. There were two moments of quality in the first half for Stratford and both came from Harry Wakefield.

After 27 minutes he swivelled and shot over the bar and 12 minutes later Wakefield strode forward in the inside left channel and his fierce drive was palmed away for a corner by Ben Taylor.

The corner was defended with some difficulty, but when the Puritans countered they did so with speed and plenty of purpose. Dan Vann was seemingly in control, but his back pass was under hit, leaving Mahoney exposed.

Wreh and Mahoney came together as the Bards goalkeeper rushed off his line and although the shot was blocked, referee Liam Corbett pointed to the spot after Wreh tumbled to the floor. Jack Stevens dispatched the spot-kick with aplomb and that was to be the defining moment of this local derby.

The Bards grew into the game in the second half, but rarely threatened. Although the Puritans had more shots on goal, they were largely from distance and Mahoney again distinguished himself.

As full-time approached there was a sense of anti-climax, with the conditions and tension of the occasion dampening the enthusiasm of a large and well-behaved Bank Holiday crowd.

BANBURY: Taylor, C.Roberts, Brown, Babos, Langmead, Williams, Stevens (Finch71), Rasulo, Wreh (Sodeinde 61), M.Roberts (Landers 79), Acquaye. Unused subs: Reilly, Johnson.

STRATFORD: Mahoney, Vann, Isaac (James 73), Fry, Magunda, Turner, Wilson, Wakefield (Storer 57), Grocott, Sammons, Dawes. Unused subs: O’Regan, Lafferty, Beresford.

ATTENDANCE: 1,221



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