LLOYD Sabin believes his Banbury side have what it takes to battle for the title – but he will not let it become a distraction.

Victory over local rivals Thame Town saw the north Oxfordshire side climb to second in Division 1 of the Home Counties Premier League and within two points of leaders High Wycombe.

Banbury welcome fellow Oxfordshire side Aston Rowant to Whitepost Road tomorrow.

And skipper Sabin, who is without the unavailable Richard West, but adds Jack Wilkins, Ed Phillips and James Mokler to his squad, is eyeing a fifth successive win.

He said: “We will just keep taking each game as it comes.

“But I do believe we have the squad to challenge for the league.

“We’re on a good run and hopefully we can keep that going.”

Rowant sit fifth after recording three victories from six games.

They showed good character to earn a draw at Tring Park and batsman Chris Watling is confident his side can perform against Banbury.

He said: “We’re looking forward to it. We should raise our game, we’re pretty confident.”

Rowant make one change, with Wes Morrick returning in place of Ben Knowles.

Thame captain Michael Beard is under no illusions about the importance of his side’s clash at local rivals Horspath.

The club sit bottom, but just eight points behind tomorrow’s hosts.

With Richard Straughan away, Mike Higgs and Jack Aston are added to Thame’s squad.

Beard said: “It’s too early to think of it as a must-win.

“But it’s obviously an important game and it’s one we would like to think we have a good chance of winning.”

Horspath skipper Will Eason echoes Beard’s thoughts.

He remains in an upbeat mood after a high-scoring draw against Henley and is eyeing a second victory of the season.

Eason said: “It’s a game neither team particularly wants to lose.

“It’s pretty important even though it’s early in the season.”

Horspath name a squad of 12, with Milly Faruq and Jimmy Phillips returning and Will Robertson dropping to the 2nd XI.

Jamie Perkin remains confident Oxford can find a winning formula.

The side suffered a five-wicket defeat at home to Slough to fall to a fourth loss in six games.

And captain Perkin knows batting improvements are needed when they face Tring Park.

He said: “It’s the same old story. The same players are getting runs and there’s not enough people chipping in.”

Calvin Dickinson returns in place of John Barrett.

Great & Little Tew captain Harry Smith is urging his side to make a quick recovery from their first defeat of the season.

The west Oxfordshire club suffered a 147-run defeat at Wokingham in Division 2 last weekend.

A trip to leaders Buckingham Town, who are already 25 points ahead of second-placed Tew, does not make the task of returning to winning ways any easier.

But Smith is upbeat ahead of tomorrow.

He said: “Hopefully it’s just a blip. Obviously we’ve got a tough game, but we’re the underdogs.”

Tew are without unavailable duo Henry Woodward and Ian Bryan, adding Tom Bradbeer, Ollie Price and Andrew Price to the squad.

Anupam Sanklecha remains optimistic of a change in fortune as Shipton-under-Wychwood bid to end their winless start at home to Datchet.

For a second successive week the side were unable to capitalise on a promising bowling display.

Dickon Morris, Harry Davies and Jason Hunt are added to the squad and Sanklecha is eyeing a first victory.

The skipper said: “Hopefully things will change and we have a few players coming in.”


Banbury (v Aston Rowant, home): from Sabin, Haupt, Clarke, Adams, Rana, Hill, Beer, Green, Wright, Taylor, Wilkins, Phillips, Mockler.

Aston Rowant (v Banbury, away): Bethell, Condon, Reid, Smith, Watling, Tolson, Moriarty, Pendered, Whatman, Harris, Morrick.

Thame Tn (v Horspath, away): from C Russell, Furness, Kanishka, Beard, Sutcliffe, Straughan, Adams, Mushtaq, Jeffcock, A Russell, Khan, Higgs, Aston.

Horspath (v Thame Tn, home): from Coleman, Fitzjohn, R Eason, Skelton, Brown, Green, W Eason, Cosford, Belcher, Manley, Faruq, Phillips.

Oxford (v Tring Park, away): Tong-Jones, Eltham, Perkin, Ayub, Nutt, Mendis, Kilpatrick, Murphy, Keat, Humphreys, Dickinson.

Great & Little Tew (v Buckingham Tn, away): from Smith, Catling, White, Lloyd Brock, Slatter, Wyatt, Shurmer, Thomas, Lawrence Brock, Bradbeer, O Price, A Price.

Shipton-under-Wychwood (v Datchet, home): from Wood, Norgrove, Miller, Champion, Sanklecha, Senior, I Harris, Marstin, S Harris, Rehman, Lewis, Morris, Hunt, Davies.