This weekend sees Oxford City turn out in front of their home crowd for the final time this season as they welcome Bognor Regis Town to Marsh Lane for a National League South fixture, knowing one point will see them mathematically safe from relegation. This fixture also kick-starts a frenetic final week for the Hoops that will see them on the road on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to complete the league campaign, before they play their Oxfordshire Senior Cup final fixture at Thame United the following Wednesday.
The Hoops and the Rocks have met twice already this season. They faced up to each other in the reverse fixture at Nyewood Lane in a re-arranged fixture in November which saw the teams battle to a goalless draw. The need for the fixture to be moved from its original date was due to the sides matching up at Marsh Lane in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round. City came out on top in this fixture thanks to Matt Paterson’s first half goal, sealing the Hoops’ path into the First Round Proper.
A lacklustre second half saw City fall to defeat at Weston-super-Mare last weekend. The first period saw a fine battle between the sides as Kavan Cotter’s first goal for the Hoops and Rob Sinclair’s strike were cancelled out by a brace by Gethyn Hill to go in 2-2 at the break. The second half failed to live up to excitement of the first as Aaron Parsons put his side back ahead, before Hill completed his hat-trick to see his side to a 4-2 win. This came a week after City all but confirmed their place in next season’s National League South with a 2-1 win over Eastbourne Borough at Marsh Lane.
Bognor Regis’s relegation was confirmed last weekend as they fell to a battling defeat at home Hemel Hempstead Town. The visitors found themselves 3-0 up after 71 minutes at Nyewood Lane, however the Rocks failed to give up that easily and fought hard to get two goals back heading into the 90th minute, however this came too late for force a point. They have been in action since as they travelled to Concord Rangers on Tuesday night. They fell to a 2-1 defeat on Canvey Island as the hosts went 2-0 up shortly after the hour and, although Ibra Sekajja got one back in the 83rd minute, were unable to force their way to a point.
The deadlock was unbroken when the sides met at Nyewood Lane in late November, thanks to some late heroics from Rocks ‘keeper Dan Lincoln to save his side a point. Matt Paterson struck the woodwork in the first half for the Hoops, before Lincoln made two magnificent late saves as he got down low to push Zac McEachran’s shot away from goal and then he tipped Ezra Forde’s deflected looping shot over the bar.
Just a few weeks before, City edged out the Rocks at Marsh Lane to progress to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. A tight game throughout was decided by a first half volley from Matt Paterson. City’s top scorer was found on the edge of the box by Dave Pearce before he hit his effort first time into the roof of the net. It should have been two on the stroke of the break as he had a chance to double his and his team’s tally from the spot, however he put his effort wide of the post. City’s reward for the win was a trip to Colchester where... well… I’ll just leave this here: Click Here
City are on the road on Tuesday night making the long trip to Essex to face Braintree Town at Cressing Road, 19:45 kick-off.
Mark Jones has a lot of respect for this weekend’s opponents, who he feels will be a big threat:
"It’s the last home game against Bognor on Saturday. We want to try and finish our home fixtures with a win, and that’s what we’ve been speaking to the players about this week and are working towards.
People will probably look at it and think that Bognor have been relegated and it should be an easy win, but we don’t see it like that. We had a very tough game in the league down at Bognor back in November and we only just scraped past them in the FA Cup earlier in the season.
Even though they have been relegated, if you look at their results they haven’t really been hammered by anyone, most of their games have been reasonably close. We know it’s going to be a tough game, every game in this league is."
He was however relieved that midweek results have seen his side all but safe:
"We were pleased with the result for Hampton down at Poole on Tuesday, it allows us to breathe a bit easier for the last few games. We’ve got four games to go, and we want to try and get as many points as we possibly can.
We’ve got to approach it with the right attitude and play with the right enthusiasm tomorrow, and that’s what we’ve been speaking about, but we are looking forward to the last home game. We want to send people away happy and that’s the way we see it."
Jonah has also reported a clean bill of health heading into the final week of the season:
"Frankie Musonda and Eddie Jones come back into the squad this weekend. We missed them both last weekend at Weston-super-Mare, so we are picking from a fully fit squad for tomorrow."
With a hectic week coming up, he outlines his plans for the four games his side needs to play:
"We then need to look at the next three games, four games in a week is a lot to finish the season off and I think we will have to rotate the squad a little bit. I don’t really see the point in flogging the same players game after game in the last week of the season. It will be an opportunity to have a look at one or two things with next season in mind."
Finally, he hopes for a good turn out from the City faithful tomorrow:
"We look forward to tomorrow, it’s going to be a warm afternoon and we hope that people will come out and support us in the last game and hopefully can create a bit of an atmosphere the players will enjoy."