Just 94 days after Oxford City’s final kick of their 2017/18 campaign, and 21 days since England completed their World Cup adventure, the league season is back!
Eastbourne Borough visit Marsh Lane on Saturday afternoon as the sides will do battle in the first of 42 league matches they will play between now and 27th April 2019, in what is expected to be sweltering conditions in Oxfordshire for the 3pm kick-off.
The six National League South fixtures over the past three seasons between the sides have been evenly matches, with two wins apiece, with two draws. Eastbourne have the better goalscoring record in these fixtures, having scored 10, to City’s 6.
The two sides picked up a win at their respective home ground’s last season, The Sports picking up a 2-0 win at Priory Lane in September, before City picked up a 2-1 win at Marsh Lane when they met in April.
City have endured a mixed pre-season as they have picked up three wins, and two losses in the five matches they played. They started with a loss against near neighbours, Oxford United, at Marsh Lane. The 5-1 score-line may have been perceived as harsh on the Hoops, however there were plenty of positives for Mark Jones in this performance. Three wins followed with a 3-0 win over a Luton Town XI, a 4-1 win over Chesham United, and a 5-0 win over Thame United. Pre-season was wrapped up with a trip up the A34 and A43 to Brackley Town. City fell to a 2-0 reverse against last season’s play-off finalists, and FA Trophy Finalists in a real final test before the season gets underway.
Eastbourne’s pre-season saw them pick up two wins, and four losses in their six matches. They started with a 5-2 win over their tenants Langney Wanderers, then falling to defeat against Charlton Atheltic U23’s 1-0 and Ebbsfleet United 2-1. A further win then followed against local rivals Eastbourne Town, 2-1, however their final two matches saw them fall to defeat at Burgess Hill Town (3-1) and Lewes (3-0).
City boss Mark Jones is looking ahead with optimism for the season:
“The first game seems to get earlier every season! But we are ready and looking forward to the match today and the upcoming games in what is a very busy first month of the season.”
“Like all clubs, we look forward to the season with optimism. We of course want to start the season at home with a positive result, but whatever the result today it won’t define the whole season. Our season will be defined by the way we apply ourselves every week over a long period of time.
“I do believe we have a good group of players at the football club. Not many people have been talking too much about us and we don’t appear to be one of the fancied teams. The challenge for us is to prove people wrong and be highly motivated to be successful.”
“One thing we do need to improve off the field is our attendances and supporter base. Even if we could improve our home attendances by 20% it would help the club massively. As a club we’re looking at initiatives to attract more people to the games, but if you are reading these notes and enjoy what you see, please spread the word!”
Mark Jones has also reported a clean bill of health ahead of the opening match, with Rob Sinclair, Kabongo Tshimanga, and Ben Jefford all expected to be involved after the knocks they picked up in pre-season.
Updated 21:03 - 2 Aug 2018 by Oxford City FC