BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke made it three away wins on the trot at playoff chasing Banbury after Nana Owusu’s second free kick in three days secured a deserved three points.
Basingstoke would have felt they shaded the first half, despite a lack of goal scoring chances for both sides, as they kept Banbury pinned back in their own half for long periods of the opening 45 minutes while pressing high up the field to restrict their opponents passing game.
The best chance for the away side fell to Charlie Kennedy following a corner. Aaron Jarvis had a shot blocked inside the area and Kennedy was first to the loose ball but could only turn it against the post before seeing it cleared to safety.
At the other end, Conor McDonagh sent a powerful strike from a tight angle skidding across goal but Alex Tokarczyk got down quickly to tip it wide and Eddie Odhiambo sliced a shot wide when well positioned on the edge of the box.
It remained goalless at the break, the hosts getting men behind the ball and looking very organised defensively so that despite Basingstoke enjoying long spells of possession they found it difficult to open the Puritans up and were mostly restricted to shots from range.
HALF TIME: 0-0
Banbury came out for the second half looking to get their possession game back on track but found themselves a goal down. Sam Deadfield was caught on the edge of the box and as the referee played advantage, Jarvis was fouled in the box. After consulting with his assistant, offside was given and play brought back for the free kick. Owusu stepped up to clip the ball into the far corner of the net.
Banbury threw caution to the wind and started to attack Basingstoke. Tokarczyk got down well to save a Luke Carnell header from one corner while another caused a scramble inside the Basingstoke box which only ended when Tokarczyk was able to fall on a loose ball after a couple of blocked shots.
Basingstoke defended well though and limited the Banbury chances to claim a 5th away win of the season.