Banbury United’s eight-match Evo-Stik League South unbeaten run came to an end at Stratford Town on Boxing Day.
The Puritans lost 2-1 on Wednesday with Wilson Carvalho grabbing the second half winner after Ravi Shamsi had cancelled out Chris Cox’s early opener.
Manager Mike Ford named an unchanged starting line-up for the third premier division central game running following back-to-back victories.
But United made a terrible start when they fell behind in the third minute after Will Grocott’s free-kick found the unmarked Cox who headed past Manny Agboola.
Rocked by going behind so early on, United took a while to settle into the game before Giorgio Rasulo tested Matija Sarkic from 25 yards with the on-loan Aston Villa keeper scrambling along his line to turn the ball around the post.
Shane Benjamin fired wide for Stratford but both sides failed to create too many openings for the remainder of the first half before Shamsi’s curling free-kick, which looked destined for the top corner of the net, was superbly tipped over the bar by Sarkic. At the other end, Agboola thwarted James Fry when he cut out a dangerous cross from Cox before the Stratford skipper could pounce.
United equalised ten minutes into the second half when Shamsi’s superbly struck 20 yard free-kick proved too hot for Sarkic this time as it flew over the wall and into the corner of the net.
But Stratford regained the lead in the 66th minute when Carvalho pounced to net from close range after Agboola could only parry a fierce shot from Benjamin.
Shamsi’s persistence saw him rob Jordan Williams but he was crowded out before he could get his shot away in the box. Fry’s 25 yard effort was turned around the post by Agboola, a feat matched by Sarkic at the other end moments later as he thwarted Greg Kaziboni.
Ford threw Ricky Johnson up front in the closing stages in a bid to get back on level terms.
Substitute John Mills shot over from close range after getting on the end of Kaziboni’s low cross and then missed an even better chance in stoppage-time. Johnson flicked the ball on for the on-loan Bath City striker but he shot weakly at Sarkic and that was that.