ANDY Whing hopes tonight’s friendly with Oxford United shows how far his Banbury United side have progressed.

The Puritans boss welcomes his former club to the Spencer Stadium this evening (7.45pm) after a positive start to pre-season.

Banbury performed well in a 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion Under 23s and a 1-0 defeat to Brackley Town, either side of beating Easington Sports 10-2.

Those results give Whing belief that his team can be more of a match for United than they were in a 5-0 friendly loss last August.

That day, Banbury could only name two substitutes and had to borrow young United goalkeeper Kie Plumley.

Read also: Twelve Oxford United players self-isolating after positive Covid tests

The U's were set to name an inexperienced side even before a Covid outbreak forced 12 players to self-isolate, but Whing believes it will be a good test regardless.

The 36-year-old said: “Last year we had 11 fit players and one of their young lads had to play for us in goal.

“We’re a different team this season, it’s a different mentality and formation.

“I’ve got great ties with Oxford United, I spent seven years there and it’s a fantastic club.

“But I’m at Banbury United now and my focus is on my players.

“Whatever team Karl (Robinson) brings we’ll put a competitive side out and we’re looking forward to it.”

Whing played for United from 2011 to 2015 and began his coaching career at the club, before joining Banbury after spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Hereford.

His first campaign was curtailed by Covid in November – although the Puritans did reach the Emirates FA Cup first round for the first time in 47 years.

The former midfielder has had to be patient, but hopes tonight is one of many great occasions in the season ahead.

He said: “For a club like ours it’s a fantastic opportunity for the fans to see Oxford United and start supporting us again.

“We’ve lost revenue, so the main focus is to get as many fans in the ground as we can.

“We’re getting new floodlights and these types of games against big clubs contribute to paying for that.

“My family come down every week and absolutely love it because it’s a great atmosphere.

“The volunteers who help behind the scenes for nothing are unbelievable.”