Oxford City return to league action on Tuesday evening as they travel to Bognor Regis Town in the National League South, catching up the first of the three games postponed due to their progression in the FA Cup. The fixture was due to be played the weekend of the Fourth Qualifying Round which was actually drawn as a reverse of the planned league fixture, the clubs meeting at Marsh Lane where The Hoops ran out 1-0 winners.
City were able to keep their FA Cup momentum going on Saturday picking up their second consecutive league win as they beat Wealdstone by the odd goal in five. There was no movement in the league however, with both Concord Rangers and The Rocks also picking up very important wins to keep it tight towards the bottom of the league.
The Hoops started with a bang as they ran into a 2-0 lead in the opening 8 minutes. Christian Oxlade Chamberlain placed into an empty net after beating onrushing ‘keeper Jonathan North to a long ball, before Zac McEachran doubled the lead 3 minutes later with a wonderfully placed effort from the edge of the D. Wealdstone then grabbed control of the game midway through the first period and forced a goal back through Abobaker Eisa 10 minutes before the break. The second half was a very even affair, and good defending from both sides limited the clear cut chances. This changed five minutes from the end as passing between Reece Fleet and McEachran allowed the former to smash past North on 87 minutes, before Eisa rounded off the scoring less than a minute later to leave a nervy finish for City.
Tomorrow’s hosts ended their winless streak on Saturday as they overcame St Albans City 2-1 to win for the first time since August. Kristian Campbell gave them an early lead as he headed in from a corner. Sam Merson equalised just after the half hour, meeting a ball across goal, leaving him with the easy task of placing into the empty net. The Rocks however retook the lead on the stroke of half time, Dan Beck taking advantage of a loose ball from a corner from the edge of the box, his placed shot through a sea of bodies finding its way into the back of the net.
The two sides haven’t met in the league for nearly 20 years, however recent history has seen two keenly contested FA Cup games in the last three seasons. In 2015/16 the clubs met at Nyewood Lane in the Third Qualifying Round. City were then a league higher than Bognor, however an upset was on the cards as The Rocks won 4-2 to progress, coming back from behind twice as Bradley Bubb and Jose Lapoujade both struck to give them the lead.
The Hoops had their chance to avenge that defeat in the Fourth Qualifying Round this season, and just that they did. Matt Paterson scored the only goal in early October to see City through to the First Round Proper for the first time since 2011. His 33rd minute volley went unanswered as The Hoops kept their first clean sheet since August.
Oxford City have two weeks off league action following this game with two cup fixtures to look forward to. The next fixture sees Hereford visit Marsh Lane on Saturday in the FA Trophy, before City have their big Second Round fixture the following Saturday away at Notts County. They return to league action two weeks tomorrow as they host Truro City at Marsh Lane in the National League South.