Banbury United boss Mike Ford had warned the next fence had to be negotiated for his side to maintain their play-off push.
But United’s Evo-Stik Southern League play-off hopes were dealt a huge blow as they saw their five-match winning run come to an end at Stratford Town.
You can’t expect to win a game of football if you only turn up for 45 minutesPuritans boss Mike Ford
The Puritans lost 2-0 in Saturday’s premier division derby at Stratford Town and, with Merthyr Town thumping Cambridge City, the gap is back to three points.
First half goals from Will Grocott and Mike Taylor earned Stratford all three points while Ricky Johnson missed a second half penalty for the Puritans.
Ford said: “I didn’t see that coming but we play a certain way and, for some reason, we went away from that in the first half. We were very laboured, ponderous and slow at the start of the game and the first goal was a disaster.
“We caused own downfalls and I don’t really know what we were at in the first half. We were a million miles away from what we were in the second half.
“You can’t expect to win a game of football if you only turn up for 45 minutes. But games can change very quickly and if we had converted the penalty with ten minutes left it would have been game-on.
“I’m not sure we deserved to win the game, we didn’t press the ball and looked inhibited but the pressure may just have been a bit too much.”