A solitary goal from Conor McDonagh kept Banbury United’s play-off hopes alive.
The Puritans won Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash 1-0 at Hayes & Yeading United while Merthyr Town could only manage a draw at Kings Langley.
That means the gap is now down to a point in the race for the final premier division play-off place.
Mark Bell returned to the starting line-up in place of the unavailable Tom Winters while Callum White replaced Eddie Odhiambo and McDonagh started up front ahead of Manny Duku.
United started well and Bell’s early cross was headed down by Ricky Johnson into the path of McDonagh who blasted the ball over the bar from ten yards.
United began to have the better of the game as the half progressed and went close when Bell’s corner saw Luke Carnell’s header smash against the bar before coming out.
United looked much the more likely side to make the breakthrough with Hayes offering little going forward and the goal they had been threatening arrived in the 38th minute. Johnson headed on into the path of McDonagh who struck the ball home from six yards.
Hayes improved at the start of the second half but still lacked that final ball and their finishing was poor. But United were forced to defend competently with the home side enjoying plenty of possession.
Hayes’ best spell came midway through the second half when Jack Harding made a great save from Mitchell Weiss in a one-on-one situation with Sahr Kabba putting the loose ball wide when he should have done better. Hayes continued to have the better of the half but were unable to find a way through and United came away with a very hard-earned three points.