A hard-fought Oxfordshire Senior Cup final ended in disappointment for Banbury United as they went down 3-1 to Thame United at the Manor Ground last night.

After missing out on promotion from Ryman League Division 1 in successive seasons and finishing runners-up in this competition 12 months ago, Andy Sinnott's Thame side finally took centre stage.

Thame United's Martin Brown and manager Andy Sinnott raise the Senior Cup in triumphBut they were forced to dig deep by a battling Banbury side in a final which featured debatable penalty decisions, brilliant saves and one of the most farcical finishes the soon-to-close Manor must have seen in its long and eventful history.

Banbury made the more confident start, and Matty Gooderick raced on to goalkeeper Simon Tricker's huge clearance to unleash a terrific left-foot drive which 17-year-old Thame keeper Chris Brain punched away one-handed.

However, Thame failed to heed this warning and Banbury took the lead in the 26th minute.

Rob Smith's knock-back from another long Tricker clearance fell into the pacy Gooderick's path and after he touched it past the onrushing Brain, the Banbury striker crashed to the ground.

Oxford referee Bert Barry pointed to the spot, and Steve Jenkins drilled the penalty into the bottom corner.

Thame were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty themselves just before half-time when Kieran Sullivan appeared to handle the ball as he fell to the ground after a mix-up with Tricker, but Barry waved play on.

And Banbury almost added to their lead on the stroke of half-time when Jenkins flicked on another Tricker punt downfield and Gooderick let fly with a first-time shot which Brain touched superbly round the post.

Brain again came to Thame's rescue early in the second half, palming away Jody McKay's tremendous 35-yard drive.

However, Thame showed they were up for the battle in the 51st minute when Nando Perna set off on a brilliant mazy run before being upended in the area by Adrian Fuller. Perna got off the deck to slam the spot-kick past Tricker.

Ten minutes later, Thame took the lead. Perna swung over a free-kick, and when Martin Brown's header was kept out by a combination of Tricker and the bar, Mark West was on hand to head home from close range.

The lively Greg Williams then raced in to head inches wide from Justin Lee's centre and West hit the post after Tricker palmed away Potter's low shot.

Potter went close again with a cracking low drive which brought a terrific one-handed save out of Tricker.

The game then came to a comical conclusion. First, referee Barry took what seemed an eternity to sort out a clash between Brain and Goodericks.

And finally seven minutes into injury time, Banbury won a corner which was cleared and, with Tricker scurrying back to his goal, Louis belted the ball into an empty net from just inside the Banbury half.

Banbury Utd: Tricker, Wallbridge, Redknap (Phillips 64), Sullivan (Smith 83), Muckelberg, Fuller, Corbett, Sherlock, Jenkins, Gooderick, McKay. Sub not used: McCrae.

Thame Utd: Brain, Smith, Lee, Brown, Avery, G Williams, Merritt, Louis, West (Cort 77), Perna, Potter. Subs not used: Mitchell, Simms.

Referee: B Barry (Oxford).

Attendance: 678.

Picture: Dave Fleming