LLOYD Sabin believes Banbury will struggle to overhaul leaders Henley even if they win tomorrow’s clash.

A 42-point deficit will be reduced if third-placed Banbury get the better of the Division 1 table-toppers.

While defeat would almost certainly leave their outside title hopes in tatters, Sabin believes even victory will leave them with a mountain to climb.

“It’s a big game for sure,” Sabin said.

“If we win then who knows, but they are 40-odd points ahead of us and realistically it’s going to be difficult to claw that gap back whatever happens.

“We will be going out there looking to win the match and then see what happens.

“But we know it’s going to be a big ask.”

Richard West and Charlie Hill, who both missed last week’s tense win over Horspath, come back in with Joe Thomas and Jack Wilkins dropping out.

Banbury beat their Oxfordshire rivals in the final over after reducing them to 153-6.

And Sabin knows they will need an improved display tomorrow.

“In the context of the game last week, it ended up being a very good win,” Sabin said.

“It should have been far more comfortable, but we got ourselves in big trouble and Horspath bowled very well.

“Thankfully we managed to get ourselves out of it, but going forward we do need to produce a complete performance with both bat and ball, which we probably haven’t done much this season to be honest.”

Horspath’s defeat last week saw them return to the bottom of the league.

A home match against fellow strugglers Slough, who are just a point ahead of them, presents an obvious opportunity to move up the table.

The enormity of the game is not lost on skipper Will Eason.

“We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge it is a massive match,” he said.

“We are both struggling and a win for either team would be huge – let’s just hope it’s us who manages to get it.”

Eason has the luxury of naming an unchanged team, the first time he has been able to do so for more than two years.

“It was July 22, 2017,” he said.

“That tells a story in itself really, because it’s hard enough to compete at this level as it is, let alone when you’re forced to change things each week.”

Aston Rowant will look to build on last week’s impressive win over second-placed Datchet when they host Tring Park.


Banbury (v Henley, away): Sabin, White, Yousaf, Clarke, Tait, Rana, Whiteley, Wright, Phillips, West, Hill.

Horspath (v Slough, home): R Eason, Hopper, Green, W Eason, Faruk, Belcher, Cosford, O’Connor, Coleman, Manley, Robertson.

Division 2

OXFORD captain Jamie Perkin says star bowler Samad Fallah’s improvement in fitness will be crucial for their title bid.

The left-arm seamer took season’s best figures of 6-33 as the Division 2 leaders beat Amersham by 48 runs last weekend.

Fallah has been struggling with a shin injury throughout the campaign after he was struck by a ball while practicing in the nets on his first day in the country.

But captain Perkin is hoping his overseas star, who has claimed 25 victims this year, can continue his progression with the heavy bruising going down.

“Sam bowled really well (last week),” said the skipper, who names an unchanged team for his side’s trip to Burnham tomorrow.

“He’s fantastic, but he’s not had much luck at all this year.

“He’s also only been bowling at 50 per cent fitness after his injury.

“But he’s getting fitter now, which will be crucial for us and last week was great for his confidence.”

However, Perkin is predicting Oxford will need to rely on other members of their attack tomorrow.

“It might be a bit different this week as it suits the spin bowlers at Burnham,” he said.

“It will be quite a tricky game and we will have to adapt.”

George Sandbach is backing his players to step up to the mark when Oxford Downs travel to second-placed Harefield.

The skipper and opener Freddie Smith are unavailable for the fixture, which sees Amin Rafiq and Dan Sherbourne receive call-ups.

Will Watts is expected to open with Chris Sandbach, while the likes of Curtly Slatter and Richard Sillars will be moved up the order.

And George Sandbach is confident his side, out to end a six-match winless run, can deliver.

He said: “With myself and Freddie Smith missing, it gives the middle order a chance to have a bat higher up and show what they can do against a strong Harefield side.

“We were unlucky not to get a win last week (against Burnham) as we batted very well in the middle period going from 50-5 to 206-6.”

Downs suffered an eight-wicket defeat at home to Harefield in May and Sandbach knows his side will have to be at their best to beat their promotion-pushing hosts.

“It will be a tough match as we lost comfortably to them at the beginning of the season,” he said.

“We performed very poorly and they performed very well.”

“So assuming we play to our potential, we have every chance to walk away with 25 points.”

Thame Town look to maintain their promotion push with a match at Wokingham.


Oxford (v Burnham, away): Price, Eltham, Nutt, Ayub, Dickinson, Craze, Mendis, Perkin, Musk, Fallah, Keat.

Oxford Downs (v Harefield, away): C Sandbach, Watts, Rafiq, Slatter, Sillars, Ellwood, Costley, Crouch, Mehmood, Sherborne, Brock.