Ravi Shamsi bagged a brace as Banbury United ended Kettering Town’s unbeaten Evo-Stik League South run on the road.
The Puritans blew the Poppies away in Saturday’s premier division clash at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium. In desperate conditions, Mike Ford’s side rewarded the fans to run out 4-1 winners with Charlie Wise and Greg Kaziboni also getting on the score sheet.
Ricky Johnson returned in place of Harry Whitehead in central defence for United. Poppies boss Marcus Law gave a debut to striker Adam Cunnington following his arrival in midweek from Billericay Town.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages as both teams struggled in the testing conditions.
Poppies had the majority of the possession but United carved out the first opportunity. Shamsi’s trickery created the opening for Kaziboni who stepped inside his marker in the box and his low drive was deflected wide.
United came into the game more and went close again when Giorgio Rasulo clipped a quickly taken free-kick into the box to pick out Steve Diggin who did well to turn and volley just over the bar.
Poppies had a penalty appeal waved away when Wise collided with Marcus Kelly as he tried to get on the end of Dan Holman’s through ball. Poppies went close when Aaron O’Connor just failed to get on the end of Holman’s excellent low cross into the six-yard box.
But United continued to create the better openings as the half progressed and another mazy run from Kaziboini ended with him slipping the ball through to Diggin whose shot on the turn was tipped over the bar by Paul White.
United deservedly broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when Wise headed home Shamsi’s inswinging corner.
Shamsi raced on to a superb pass from George Nash but, with just Michael Richens to beat, he allowed the central defender to nick the ball off him when he should have pushed it past him.
Poppies went close to an equaliser just before the break when Cunnington turned well and picked out Holman in the six-yard box but Manny Agboola bravely saved from point-blank range.
United had two great chances to double their advantage straight after the restart when Diggin released Shamsi but White was quickly out to clear the danger. The same combination went close again moments later, Diggin set up Shamsi who shot straight at White.
With Kettering looking to get back on level terms, it left spaces at the back for United to exploit. But Kettering equalised in the 53rd minute, George Nash was adjudged to have brought down Kelly in the box and Holman sent Agboola the wrong way from the ensuing spot-kick.
The visitors thought they were back in it but United regained the lead five minutes later when Shamsi’s inswinging corner eluded everyone in the box including White and ended up in the back of the net.
Shamsi went close to grabbing a second goal when he picked the ball up on the right flank, cut inside and beat White with a rasping drive from 25 yards which clipped the top of the bar and went over.
But United increased their lead in the 62nd minute when Diggin swept the ball out to Kaziboni on the right flank. Kaziboni raced into the box, made two step-overs before finding the back of the net with a low angled drive past White.
United twice went close in quick succession against a shell-shocked Poppies outfit. Diggin was foiled by White who then thwarted Amer Awadh from the rebound.
With Kettering committed to chasing the game, they left themselves open to the counter-attack and so it proved in the 69th minute when United incredibly scored a fourth goal. Diggin worked hard to win possession on the right before pulling the ball back for Shamsi to slam it home from ten yards.
United twice went close again in quick succession in the closing stages. Johnson’s header from Shamsi’s free-kick was tipped over by White. Kettering failed to fully clear the ensuing corner and the ball came back out to Shamsi who cut inside but shot straight at White.
But the three points were already in Santa’s sack.