Monday, 19 April 2010

Battling Banbury

Southern League Premier Division
Saturday 17th April 2010
Keys Park

My choice of game today was influenced by having a prior arrangement in Tamworth to collect a stack of old football books that had kindly been offered to me, on top of which I also arranged to meet a friend at Tamworth station around 12.15pm. I had a shortlist of three games with the others being Dosthill Colts and Shenstone Pathfinder. Said friend chose Hednesford and we made our way across Staffordshire towards Hednesford and also find somewhere to eat and drink. The Toby Carvery @ Norton Canes was our chosen establishment though both of us had soft drinks with myself due to driving. Arrival at the ground was around 2.15 and we were charged £1 for parking. Keys Park has a capacity of 3,500 and was opened in 1995. A main stand straddles the half way line and houses the club offices, changing rooms and bar. On the far side is a covered terrace that runs along the whole length of the pitch, while behind the near goal is a stretch of covered seating and behind the far goal is a covered terrace. A couple of steps of uncovered standing is located either side of the main stand.

Time-line history:
1880.....formed through amalgamation of West Hill and Hill Top
1890.....joined the Birmingham League
1892.....left the Birmingham League
1908.....left the Walsall & District League
         joined the Birmingham Combination
1909/10..Birmingham Combination champions suspended due to First World War Birmingham League
1935/36..Birmingham Senior Cup winners
1937/38..resigned during the season. as Hednesford F.C. suspended due to Second World War
         re-joined the Birmingham Combination
1952/53..Birmingham Combination runners-up Birmingham League
1962.....Birmingham League changed name to West Midlands (Regional) League
1969/70..Staffordshire County Senior Cup winners
1972.....changed name to Hednesford Town
1973/74..Staffordshire County Senior Cup winners
1977/78..West Midlands (Regional) League champions
1983/84..West Midlands (Regional) League runners-up
         promoted to the Southern League
1991/92..Southern League Midland Division runners-up
         promoted to the Premier Division
         Welsh Cup runners-up
1992.93..Staffordshire County Senior Cup runners-up
1993/94..Birmingham Senior Cup runners-up
1994/95..Southern League champions
         promoted to the Conference
1996/97..reached 4th round of FA Cup
2001.....relegated back to the Southern League
2003/04..FA Trophy winners
2005.....promoted to the Conference North via play-offs 
2006.....relegated to the Northern Premier League
2009.....transferred to the Southern League 

Hednesford went into the game with their sights firmly set on the play-offs while Banbury sit in mid-table and will either finish in 12 or 13th place. At the start of place the hosts occupied the last play-off spot and are in a three-way battle with Cambridge City and Halesowen Town with  final day shoot out looking likely as Hednesford travel to Cambridge.  

The match itself was an entertaining one with chances being created by both sides and in particular Hednesford's Darryl Hoffitt looking dangerous and it was he who had the first chance but he dragged his shot wide on seven minutes. Four minutes later and it was the visitors turn to threaten but a looping shot hit the bar. Chances continued to be created by both sides with the majority being off target. The second half pretty much continued in the same vein with chance after chances being wasted, the majority of which by home side, while as the half wore on Banbury seemed to settle for for a point and play on the counter attack. One of the best chances for Hednesford came on 48 minutes when after a long ball Hoffit laid the ball back only for it to be blasted over. The moment of controversy in the game came on 76 minutes when Hednesford were awarded a penalty after subsitute keeper Mark Scott brought down Tyrone Barnett. Scott was sent off and midfielder Declan Benjamin went in goal and subsequently saved Adam McGurk's penalty before the ball was scrambled clear. The controversy was the fact that from my point of view Barnett pulled back a Banbury defender before being fouled and (in my opinion) a free kick should have been awarded to the visitors. Hednesford continued to push forward looking for the winner and with just eight minutes remaining Elliott Durrell had an effort ruled out for offside.

Overall a disappointing result for Hednesford especially as they now have three away games (Rugby, Farnborough and Cambridge) to finish their league campaign and hopefully secure a play-off place. If only they could have found their shooting boots. For Banbury it was a case of how you were, which despite being not really having anything to play for made things difficult for the hosts and battled right to the end. For me as a neutral I never look forward to seeing a 0-0 but this was one the better ones I have seen and at times I was a very enjoyable game to watch.

Attendance: 508
Admission: £8
Programme: £2
Badge: £3.50
Coffee: 80p
Google maps driving time / distance: 1 hour 14 minutes and 44.2 miles


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