Banbury United slipped further from safety after a smash and grab raid by Paulton Rovers in Saturday’s Evo-Stik Southern League clash at Spencer Stadium.
Sam Teale’s late winner sank United as Rovers frustrated the strugglers in the closing stages before landing a sucker-punch to floor their opponents.
The Puritans are now 12 points from premier division safety and, with Arlesey Town picking up a point at Cirencester Town, Paul Davis’s side are eight points behind the Bedfordshire outfit, although they still have two games in hand and one in hand on Biggleswade Town.
Davis made a couple of changes from Tuesday’s Oxon Senior Cup tie. Jacob Walcott was preferred in midfield to Jacob Daffern and Jordan Green replaced Darius Browne.
Rovers began brightly but Mitchell Page failed to take advantage of hesitancy in the home defence and hurriedly shot wide. Marvin Martin’s glancing header was gathered by Kyle Phillips and Carl Tappin raced down the left before curling a shot just wide of the far post as United gradually got into the contest.
In a scrappy first half littered with fouls, Tappin blazed over from the edge of the box just before the break. United picked up from where they left off after the restart but found it difficult to create any openings.
Ade Talabi was brought on to try and find that elusive goal and few could fault United’s pursuit of the breakthrough with their endeavour and spirit. But their neat approach play came to nothing against an uncompromising Rovers defence and Phillips only had to deal with crosses instead of shots.
With the game heading for a stalemate Rovers struck in the 86th minute. Leigh Bedwell, who didn’t have a shot to save until then, reacted superbly to keep out a low drive from Teale only for United to commit the sin of conceding from the ensuing corner. Teale rose unchallenged at the far post to head home Jon Davies’s corner and that was that, relegation is a step nearer.