BANBURY United boss Mike Ford is hoping for plenty of cheer with nine points up for grabs over the festive period.

The Puritans visit Biggleswade Town tomorrow in the Evo-Stik South League, before hosting basement boys Dunstable Town on Boxing Day and travelling to Stratford Town on New Year’s Day.

Despite outperforming Premier Division high-fliers Weymouth last Saturday, Banbury were left empty-handed in a narrow defeat.

But they bounced back in midweek with a crushing 9-0 win at Oxford City Nomads in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup.

Still in the top half of the table, Ford believes a good return from the Christmas fixtures will set Banbury up nicely for the new year.

He said: “I’ve always loved the Christmas period.

“When you have three games in quick succession, it’s important that you try to get a couple of wins, and if we can replicate our recent performances we will be fine.

“My challenge to the players is to try to get more points in the second half of the season than we have in the first.”

“I think we’re improving all the time, so I’m very hopeful for the rest of the season.”

Meanwhile, Ford has wished leading scorer Jefferson Louis well after the veteran striker left the club last week.

Citing travelling commitments as the main reason for his departure, the Banbury boss was philosophical and says the club parted company with the player on good terms.

Ford said: “Jefferson doesn’t drive, and he was having a lot of problems getting to training and games.

“It wasn’t much good when he was sometimes turning up for training two minutes before it started. It was quite stressful, and so he’s moved to Chesham, which is closer to home for him.

“We had a good conversation and we wish him well.

“I’m not worried about lacking goals elsewhere. We’re up there among the leading scorers in the division.”

Ford names an unchanged squad.

Andy Ballard is calling on Didcot Town to continue their good run of form and stay in touch with the West Division play-offs over Christmas.

The Railwaymen host Bideford tomorrow, before local derbies against Kidlington and North Leigh on Boxing Day and December 30 respectively.

Didcot have only lost once in six league games and Ballard was further boosted by the 1-0 victory over Wimborne Town last weekend.

He said: “That was a big three points for us.

“A win there was a fantastic achievement. Wimborne were on a really good run, but we played without fear and I was delighted with the result.”

Didcot will be without the suspended George Jeacock for tomorrow’s game, but Cameron McNeill returns.

The Railwaymen have two local derbies coming up over Christmas, and Ballard knows the importance of continuing their good form.

He said: “All three games will be really tough, especially with two derbies.

“We will need to show all of our qualities over the next few games to pick up the points.”

North Leigh will be desperate just to get back onto the field after three successive postponements.

The Millers have not played since December 5, but are raring to go for tomorrow’s trip to Bristol Manor Farm.

After another week without a game, the west Oxfordshire side, who also host Evesham United on Boxing Day, are at full strength for the trip.

Boss John Brough said: “The break we’ve had has given us a chance to recuperate and everybody is fit and available.”

Kidlington are sweating on the fitness of top-scorer Anaclet Odhiambo ahead of their trip to Yate Town.

The Greens have also seen their last couple of fixtures postponed and bid to end a two-match winless run.

After the Boxing Day clash at Didcot, Kidlington host Bideford on December 30.

In the East Division, Thame United will look to continue their excellent league form when they host Chalfont St Peter.

Mark West’s side have not tasted defeat since October 24.

Back-to-back 4-0 wins against Fleet Town and Kempston Rovers has seen Thame creep into the top half of the table.

And boss West, whose side travel to AFC Dunstable on Boxing Day and host Aylesbury United on New Year’s Day, is pleased with the first half of the season.

He said: “We’re playing OK.

“It’s weird how we’ve turned things around, but the boys are working hard and playing with a bit of confidence.

“If I’d been offered top half by Christmas at the start of the season I would have been satisfied.

“What’s been important is I’ve been able to name a fairly settled side. If you’re only making a couple of changes, that does help.”

West names an unchanged squad for the visit of Chalfont.


Banbury Utd (v Biggleswade Tn, away): from Hardin, Hawtin, Felix, Nash, Bradbury, Carnell, Pond, Sandy, Johnson, McDonagh, Winters, Howards, Humphreys, Ngathe, Peake-Pijnen, Macdonald.

Didcot Tn (v Bideford, home): from Bedwell, Elkins, Young, Learoyd, Alexis, Humphries, Barcelos, Pin, Agyakwa, Murphy, Reid, Thomas, Ballard, Woodley, Cattell, Barder, Joyce, McNeill.

North Leigh (v Bristol Manor Farm, away): from Agboola, Lymn, Keightley, James, Wellon, Hopkins, Wood, Mattock, Mendes, Grabe, Bryan, Seacole, Noel-Williams, Paddock, Marshall, Lawrence, McGlynn, Sheehan.

Kidlington (v Yate Tn, away): from Warrell, Tetek, E Odhiambo, Castle, Janes, Franklin, Brown, Gabbidon, Coyle, James, Browne, A Odhiambo, Martin, Quainton, Osborne-Ricketts, McMahon, Organ, Benjamin.

Thame Utd (v Chalfont St Peter, home): from Hill, Murray, Lynn, Smyth, Hercules, Davies, Sturgess, Connell, Goss, Morris, Johnston, Gledhill, Evans, Harrison, Ricketts, Gray, West.