FOOTBALL: North Leigh upset Banbury

First published in Sport

Banbury United 1-2 North Leigh

Hellenic League side North Leigh stunned holders Banbury United with a thrilling 2-1 victory to lift the Oxfordshire Senior Cup at the Kassam Stadium last night, writes STEVE CLARE.

It was no less than they deserved as they created by far the better chances throughout against a team playing two leagues above them in the non-league pyramid.

The hero of the night was ex-Puritan Mark Simms, ironically scorer of Banbury's winning goal against Oxford United in the 2004 final.

It was his stunning shot from 25 yards early in the second half that broke the deadlock after a fairly uneventful first period.

The closest either side had come to scoring early on was a Simms effort from close range that keeper Joe Murrell did well to block.

Banbury saw a lot of the ball without creating too many clear-cut opportunities. United's Greg Williams fired into the side-netting following a pinpoint cross from Tommy Kinch.

Apart from that, the North Leigh defence, superbly marshalled by skipper Stuart Huxley, stood firm.

The game needed a goal and Simms's thunderbolt two minutes after the interval seemed to give both sides the impetus to go on the offensive.

Ex-Oxford United star Chris Allen was increasingly involved in most of North Leigh's best attacks.

And he should, in fact, have doubled the lead on 58 minutes, but contrived to miss an open goal after Murrell had blocked his initial shot.

Allen redeemed himself however on 71 minutes by grabbing North Leigh's second.

Andy McCabe crossed from the left and Allen bravely headed home under pressure from Murrell.

Banbury threw men forward to try and reduce the arrears.

Kinch hit a free-kick inches wide and Ady Fuller brought a decent save from Richard Barrett, but still the greater threat came at the other end.

Murrell denied both Allen and McCabe with two top-class saves as the Hellenic League side threatened to embarrass United.

As it was, there was some consolation for Banbury courtesy of a Kinch penalty in stoppage time after Jody McKay had been brought down in the box.

But it was too little too late and there was no denying North Leigh the victory as they saw out the remaining seconds of the game with no further scares.

Banbury United: Murrell, Travers (Pearman 46), Kinch, Essex, Milner, Fuller (McKay 78), Bridges (Sambrook 86), Williams, Bryan, Blossom, Stanbridge

North Leigh: Barrett, Threlfall, Helby, Wood, Huxley, Mortimer-Jones, Burnell (Jackson 86), McCabe, Simms (Cooper 80), Reardon (Futcher 69), Allen.

Attendance: 568.

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