Fish and Chips. Ant and Dec. Oxford City and the Emirates FA Cup. Three duos that have proven to be perfect matches for each other. Admittedly, any love affair with the cup all depends on recent form in the competition, and while it may not always provide the fondest of memories, it has been incredibly kind to City over the past few seasons.
The Hoops have already navigated their way through the first match of their 2019/20 campaign but, as the Third Qualifying Round comes around this weekend, they come up against another side who have had recent success in the competition as Hampton & Richmond Borough make the trip up the M40 to Marsh Lane to fight for a place in the Fourth, and final, Qualifying Round.
But before a ball is even kicked in this tie, there is one thing we can guarantee about the end result: one team will not be able to match their 2018/19 performance.
If this were to be Oxford City, it would be their chance to make it three successive seasons in the competition proper. City are already on their best run of form in the competition since 1970, which is when they last had successive years in the First Round Proper, however they’ve still got some way to better that, with the Hoops managing it five-years in a row that time around!
The Beavers, meanwhile, will be looking for a second consecutive appearance in the Competition Proper. 2017/18 saw them get close, but a Fourth Qualifying Round defeat against a high-flying Truro City meant they fell one hurdle short.
The two sides are not unfamiliar opponents with the sides regularly battling out in the Vanarama National League South over the past four seasons. In fact, the two sides have already met once this campaign, which happened to be also at Marsh Lane as the Hoops picked up their first win of the season with a 3-2 scoreline.
It was the Hoops that drew first blood as they picked up the first three points on offer this campaign, however it was certainly a battle which saw the Hoops having to cling on for the final moments of the match, despite at one point holding a three-goal lead.
That lead was established by two players' maiden goals for the club. Nana Owusu was the first as he slammed home a corner in the opening five-minutes after a rebounded shot fell to him to rifle past Laurie Walker. Tarik Moore-Azille was then the next as his strong header early in the second half left Walker with no chance.
The big central defender quickly turned one into two, reacting quickest to a loose ball to put the Hoops 3-0 up.
But the visitors would then earn a penalty which Louie Soares dispatched, before Tyrone Lewthwaite then pulled a second back with a quarter of an hour to play, which the Hoops were somehow able to see out.
The three points earned here went some way to the 10 points that City have earned already in the Vanarama National League South, the same tally as Saturday’s visitors are sitting on. The Hoops, however, occupy the higher position due to their superior goal difference. While the visitors have won 3 matches, over City’s 2, the Hoops have earned the missing three points by a superior record picking up draws, having registered four to Hampton’s two.
Should Saturday’s match end in a draw, the match will be replayed on Tuesday evening, 8th October, at Hampton & Richmond’s Beveree Stadium at 19:45.
Oxford City boss Mark Jones is hopeful that his side can make home advantage count in what he’s expecting to be a very tight game:
“We were pleased to be given a home draw in the FA Cup, we know it’s going to be a difficult game against Hampton, and there’s a few players in their set up that we’ve come across before. What we’re hoping to do is to build on some of the positives from our performances over the past few weeks and take some heart from that.
“I don’t feel as though we’ve been playing poorly, fine margins will determine results, and we’ll just continue to work on the fine details in our game that will make all of the difference.
“We need to make sure that we put in another really good performance, nothing else will be good enough. It’s a competition that we have done well in recently, and we would like to experience a good cup run again.
“On the injury front, we hope to have two or three players back. They’ve been training this week and so hopefully we’ll have some positive news on some of the senior players returning.
“But we just have to make sure that come 3pm on Saturday, we’re ready to go, we put in a good