Banbury confirmed their top-of-the-table position with a comprehensive 3-0 win as Hitchin Town were left looking for their first win of the campaign.
Hitchin made one change from St Neots as they welcomed captain Dan Webb back to replace the departed Will Wright but the teamsheets hinted at a gap in the experience levels of the Canaries and the Puritans.
The visitors took the lead on ten minutes after Jefferson Louis muscled Danny Clifton off the ball in midfield. Ravi Shamsi cut in from the right and Michael Johnson could only parry his shot. George Nash was quicker to react than the Canary defence and poked home the rebound.
Hitchin did not make the best of their possession with Banbury’s defence snuffing out a string of long balls. However the Canaries had a good spell as a searching through ball by Lucas Kirkpatrick nearly found Brooks. The midfielder then had Hitchin’s best first half chance when Ben Walster crossed from the left to find Kirkpatrick who got underneath the ball to head off target.
Kirkpatrick and Kavan Cotter combined to win a corner, which Charlie Smith did well to recycle into the box only for Trey Charles to concede a foul as he went to head at goal.
At the other end Hitchin had their hands full to cope with the duo of Louis and Conor McDonagh, who were well supported by Shamsi and Tom Winters. Johnson saved well to tip aside a Winters’ free kick from 25 yards out.
As the half closed, Charles – who was getting less change from the Puritans’ defence than he had against St Neots – set up a half chance for Kirkpatrick before falling offside as he tried to follow up.
Half time – Hitchin Town 0 Banbury United 1
After the break, Banbury continued to look more threatening as Louis and McDonagh went close. Hitchin brought on McCaffrey for Clifton, who was struggling to make an impression. The tireless Brooks was feeding on scraps but fired just over the bar and then required two Banbury defenders to prevent him getting through on goal.
However on 62 minutes Banbury demonstrated that they had a touch of class to go with their experience as Louis doubled the lead with a world class finish from the edge of the area.
Johnson then did well to turn away a fierce shot from Winters who had time to run across the face of the area before shooting, but it was only a temporary reprieve. A Banbury corner on 70 minutes fell to Luke Carnell whose shot took a wicked deflection to reflect the gap between the two sides.
Brooks finally brought a save out of Jack Harding with a low shot, while Charles’ overhead effort went wide. Banbury’s substitutes Sam Humphreys and Liam Howards also went close but the game ended with further frustration as Jay Dowie and James Goode picked up bookings to cap a disappointing afternoon.
The Canaries will now face a tough encounter against a confident Biggleswade Town as they seek the reassurance of a first league win of the season.
Full time – Hitchin Town 0 Banbury United 3
Hitchin Town – Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Goode, Webb, Clifton, Kirkpatrick, Brooks, Smith, Charles; subs – Bailey (for Kirkpatrick), Callum Donnelly, McCaffrey (for Clifton), Brett Donnelly (for Smith), Syme
Banbury United – Harding, Westbrook, Peake-Peenan, Nash, Carnell, Hawtin, Louis, McDonagh, Winters; Johnson, Shamsi; subs – Bradbury, Martin (for Louis), Howards (for McDonagh), Humphreys (for Shamsi), Blackstock
Banbury United – Nash (10), Louis (62), Carnell (70)
Hitchin Town – Dowie, Goode
Sponsors Man of the Match – Jay Dowie
Attendance – 391