Banbury United slipped to their second BetVictor Southern League defeat of the season.
The Puritans lost 2-0 at Hednesford Town in Tuesday's Premier Central clash at Keys Park. James Hurst gave the Pitmen the interval lead from the penalty spot and substitute Dan Glover made the points safe late on.
Manager Mike Ford went for a more defensive set-up with only one recognised striker – John Mills – in the starting line-up. Gedeon Okito returned at left-back and Roger Ngaah Bosio came back in.
The Pitmen began on the front foot and had a couple of early chances with Hurst firing well over from a free-kick. Osebi Abadaki's cross to the far post found Hurst whose powerful header was acrobatically cleared off the line by Connor Roberts.
United's first chance arrived when Giorgio Rasulo turned well and released Mills but, with just Daniel Platt to beat, he could only shoot straight at the Hednesford keeper. Rasulo and Cladio Dias combined well to find Pablo Haysham who was crowded out of it as United began to find their feet.
The game opened up and Roberts arrived late at the far post but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
Roberts did well to close down Kieran Wells who then turned sharply before shooting over the bar. Wells looked to set up Tom Elliott from Abadaki's cross but Roberts again came to United's rescue to clear the danger.
Hednesford broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime when Elliot burst through into the box but was upended by Jack Harding. Hurst stepped up to slam the ensuing spot-kick into the roof of the net to give Harding no chance of making it four penalty saves in succession.
Ford threw on top scorer Jaanai Gordon at the start of the second half to partner Mills up front. But it was Hednesford who began in the ascendancy again.
Charlie Hawtin's last-gasp interception thwarted Wells after he raced clear following an error from Harding. United failed to fully clear the ensuing corner, Harding saved from Hurst when the ball came back in and managed to prevent it from crossing the line.
United struggled to create chances in the second half and Hednesford looked more likely to double their advantage than the visitors get back on level terms. Hednesford went close again when Abadaki found Bradley Wells who shot over while Elliot got clear of Lee Henderson but Harding was quickly out to avert the danger.
Ricky Johnson entered the fray late on in a bid to salvage a point but United failed to seriously trouble Platt in the second half and it was Hednesford who doubled their advantage in the 84th minute. United got caught out on the break, Glover raced on to a ball over the top and rounded Harding, Henderson got back to cover but his clearance only found the Hednesford striker and the ball ended up in the back of net.
Hednesford went close again when Ben Bailey won possession and advanced before firing just wide of the target. But the three points were already in the bag.