Banbury United made it five home Evo-Stik League South wins on the spin as they beat in-form Coalville Town 4-2.
The Puritans established a 3-0 interval lead in Saturday’s premier division central clash through Giorgio Rasulo’s penalty, Greg Kaziboni and top scorer Ravi Shamsi. The returning Lee Henderson added a fourth goal after the interval and, although Alex Dean and substitute Curtis Burrows pulled back a couple of late goals, they came too late to alter the outcome at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium.
Manager Mike Ford was forced into changes with on-loan Oxford United duo Manny Agboola and Matt Taylor required by their parent club. So keeper Jack Harding returned for his first game since October with Matt Timms making his full debut in place of Taylor.
Ford also brought Henderson back into central defence and Charlie Hawtin returned at right-back after being out since early December.
Both sides had early chances during a lively opening. Ricky Johnson’s flick-on found Kaziboni who released Shamsi but his shot was saved by the advancing Richard Walton. At the other end, Andrew Wright’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Charlie Wise.
United broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when Shamsi broke quickly and released Kaziboni who caught out Scott McManus with a typical step-over and the Coalville defender tripped him in the box. Rasulo confidently beat Walton with the ensuing spot-kick.
United doubled their advantage four minutes later when Johnson found Kaziboni who stepped inside Dean and was allowed to advance into the area to beat Walton with a low drive.
Coalville responded when the experienced Kyle Perry helped the ball on to Wright whose first time effort from 30 yards flew just wide of Harding’s far post. And Tim Berridge tested Harding from the edge of the box after neat build-up play from Joe Doyle-Charles and Tom McGlinchey.
United twice went close in quick succession before the break. Rasulo’s wide free-kick almost caught out Walton at his near post and moments later the former MK Don cut inside two players before seeing his low drive saved by the Coalville keeper.
United increased their lead two minutes before the break when Rasulo released Shamsi on the right flank and he got away from Kieren Fenton, cut into the box before beating the advancing Walton with an angled drive into the far corner of the net.
After the restart, the game took a while to get going but it was United who created the better chances as the half progressed with Coalville unable to offer a serious threat despite changing their shape.
And United increased their lead in the 64th minute after Coalville failed to fully deal with two corners in quick succession. Rasulo’s low drive was directed goalwards by Johnson in the six-yard box, Walton parried his effort but Henderson was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Substitute Kairo Mitchell should have reduced the arrears but he headed wide from a fine cross by Luke Shaw with the goal at his mercy. Mitchell also had another effort blocked by Harding after the keeper failed to fully claim a high cross.
In between, Kaziboni burst in the box but Walton was equal to his low drive. Coalville reduced the arrears in the 80th minute when Dean was allowed too much time and space to beat Harding with a low drive. And Burrows pulled another goal back in stoppage-time after a scramble in the box.