Taylor on target as leaders make Puritans pay for missed chances
A solitary goal from Bromsgrove Sporting's Michael Taylor condemned Banbury United to a third BetVictor Southern League defeat on the spin.
The league's top scorer gave the leaders the interval advantage and that was enough to seal all three Premier Central points at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium. United were left to rue several good openings in the first half and, once they went ahead, the leaders were in no mood to let it slip.
Greg Kaziboni returned on-loan from Tamworth and went straight into the starting line-up, as did new signing Lewis Wilson, with Ravi Shamsi dropping to the bench. But Lee Henderson was still ruled out through injury, as was Connor Roberts, so club skipper Ricky Johnson remained in central defence alongside Charlie Hawtin.
United had the first chance when Jake Walker's cross found John Mills and his near post header flew over the bar. Two more chances came in quick succession for United, Craig Fasanmade was thwarted by keeper Daniel Platt who raced out of his area to clear before Amer Awadh set up Kaziboni who took a touch but fired wide.
Bromsgrove had plenty of possession but United carved out another good opening when Kaziboni released Fasanmade who laid the ball back to Giorgio Rasulo whose shot was blocked.
Bromsgrove had to wait until midway through the first half to create their first chance when Richard Gregory shot wide from 20 yards. The visitors enjoyed their best spell and finally began to pose a threat and Harry Higginson headed wide after United failed to fully deal with a corner.
In an end-to-end first half, Kaziboni and Rasulo combined well to set up Fasanmade but Platt managed to save well from close range.
But United were made to pay for their missed opportunities when Bromsgrove broke the deadlock in the 39th minute. Gregory released Taylor who burst into the box and beat the advancing Jack Harding.
Bromsgrove went close to doubling their advantage when Taylor evaded Johnson and Walker, beat Harding but Hawtin cleared off the line.
Both sides went close after the restart, Leon Broadhurst's deflected free-kick was saved by Harding. At the other end, Platt did well to turn Rasulo's 25 yard free-kick around the post.
Shamsi replaced Mills, adding even more pace to the attack as Mike Ford looked for a way back into the contest.
But Bromsgrove went close when Jak Hickman's cross was headed straight at Harding by Taylor and Will Shorrock twisted and turned before his angled drive was blocked.
United went close to an equaliser when Walker's low cross caused problems in a crowded six-yard box with Awadh and Kazibone having shots blocked before Fasanmade's angled drive was deflected wide. That signalled a spell of pressure from United but they couldn't find a way through Bromsgrove's solid defence.
Taylor caught Harding napping when he charged down the keeper's attempted clearance but the ball went just wide from six yards. Harding redeemed himself when he kept out Shorrock's fierce angled drive.
Johnson was thrown up front in the closing stages to add a more physical presence in the final third but the visitors went close again Shorrock fired wide of the far post following a quick counter-attack. In stoppage-time Shamsi's free-kick found Johnson but his header was comfortably saved by Platt before Harding thwarted Taylor at his near post.