Ardley United beat Brackley Town Saints 2-0 in the Boxing Day UHLSport Hellenic League derby.
But the young Saints side made them work for their premier division victory courtesy of second half goals from Will McEachran and Jack Ross.
Leam Howards threatened early on but Saints keeper Piotr Jacucha cleared with the help of a defender. Jacucha, who was to have an impressive game, denied Howards again before claiming a Chris Jackson header at the second attempt.
Cruse rifled over a volley, Howards was denied by the offside flag, Bradley Cox cleared the bar from long range and Jack Heap did likewise.
In between, a superb Saints’ move presented Chris Jordan with a shot from the edge of the box which Nick Bennion diverted over.
Bennion saved at his near post after the restart from James Watts before a Cox effort was cleared off the line and McEachran forced Jacucha into a good save.
Jordan and Ryan Knight went close for Saints before Ardley broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Howards flashed the ball across goal and McEachran slid in at the far post to score.
Ardley went for the second goal, Jacob Walcott’s effort was deflected for a corner before Howards was denied by Jacucha in a one-on-one situation.
Kyle Wynne had Bennion stretching to save at the second attempt before Jacucha denied Cruse. Howards saw his header kept out by a flying save from Jacucha before having a second effort ruled out for a foul on the keeper.
Cruse forced another great save from Jacucha but the second goal arrived in the 80th minute. A clearance fell to Ross who curled the ball into the top corner from just outside the box.
Seven minutes from time Josh Bowden was shown a second yellow card for the visitors.