Oxford City’s unbeaten streak may have come to an abrupt end on New Year’s Day, however they are left with little time to dwell on this as they get straight back into action on Saturday afternoon with a relatively short trip to Clarence Park to face St Albans City in the National League South.
Mark Jones’ men headed into their New Year’s Day match against Hungerford Town with no defeat in seven – six wins and a draw taking the Hoops from hovering precariously above the relegation zone to sneaking into the playoffs in just a matter of weeks.
The result, against a Hungerford Town side who certainly made a mockery of their own league position with a richly deserved 2-1 win against City at Marsh Lane, saw City drop out of the playoff positions by one point. However, with every result possible in any National League South match this campaign, these positions are certain to change again on Saturday afternoon.
City’s unbeaten run in the league stretched back to a time when they were still in the FA Cup. A 1-0 win away at Dulwich Hamlet began the run that ultimately saw wins against Billericay Town (3-2), Truro City (4-0), East Thurrock United (3-1), Weston-super-Mare (3-0) and Wealdstone (2-0), while also picking up a point against Hungerford Town in the reverse fixture.
The Saints are on as good a run as the Hoops were: unbeaten in their previous six league matches with three wins and three draws. All three victories were by a 2-1 scoreline against Eastbourne Borough, Hemel Hempstead and Billericay Town, while they settled for 0-0 draws against Wealdstone and Gloucester City, and a 1-1 draw against Hemel Hempstead on New Year's Day.
The fixture has no shortage of history as the clubs met regularly in the Isthmian League up until 1998 before renewing rivalries in 2011/12 in the Southern League and then again in 2015/16 once both sides were in the National League South. In fact, it’ll be the 125th competitive fixture between the two sides.
The Hoops have taken bragging rights in the National League South having won five of the seven matches played between the sides. This included doing the double over the Hertfordshire side in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 – an impressive Jefferson Louis brace on Boxing Day 2016 continuing Mark Jones’ dream start in the City hotseat, before Stephane Ngamvoulou stole the points a week later at a very damp Marsh Lane.
The sides have already met at Marsh Lane this campaign where City ran out 2-1 winners. Matt Paterson put his side into a first half lead and, despite being pegged back, Reece Fleet found the net to ensure the Hoops would take three points from a match that saw substitute goalkeeper Alex Grantham used as an emergency striker.
There will be no rest for City once again after Saturday’s match as they will head to Maidenhead United on Tuesday evening for a third attempt at playing the FA Trophy First Round match, ahead of next weekend’s potential second round fixture away at Maidstone United.
For anyone travelling to Clarence Park on Saturday the address for the ground is:
Clarence Park Stadium