A four-week period that has seen Oxford City make their three longest away trips of the season comes to an end this weekend with the longest of the lot – a trip to Cornwall to face Truro City.
It’ll be a trip to Treyew Road to face the Tigers whose groundshare at Torquay United’s Plainmoor was ended in the new year, preventing a trip back to the ground where the Hoops were humbled 7-2 just a few weeks ago against the league leaders.
The longer trip into Cornwall will perhaps not be seen as a bad thing for City with the Hoops having produced some memorable moments at Treyew Road over the past three seasons. 2016/17 saw Mark Jones’ men nearly rescue an unlikely point from 3-0 down just after half time. Shaun Macauley and Mike Fondop scoring in the final 10 minutes to bring it back to 3-2, however Truro stopper Martin Rice pulled off a great late save to maintain his side’s lead. However, it was in 2015/16 and 2017/18 that provided the best memories for the City faithful.
The Hoops were far too good for the Tigers on August Bank Holiday Monday in 2015 – Omari Sterling James and Bradley Bubb putting the Hoops into a 2-0 lead after 19 minutes. Bubb was replaced by Vinny Mukendi after pulling his hamstring, and the substitute really made his mark with an 11 minute hat-trick after the break. The first came from the spot, following a challenge that saw Rob Farkins dismissed for the hosts. A header and a left footed finish saw him complete his quickfire perfect hat-trick after 63 minutes, with Luke Coulson rounding off a 6-0 win with a 90th minute penalty.
But it was perhaps last season’s meeting that was most memorable. Trailing 2-0 at Half Time, the Hoops came back and took all three points thanks to a Matt Paterson penalty and a Sam Nombe brace. The latter really announced himself to the City faithful that day with a match-rescuing performance, his long-range dipping volley too much for Tom McHale, before he took advantage of a defensive lapse to slot home for all three points.
City ran out as emphatic winners when the two sides met earlier in the campaign. Kabby Tshimanga’s 34th minute penalty was followed up by goals by Joe Oastler, Nombe and Craig Fasanmade to see City to a 4-0 win in Oxfordshire.
However, form is a wonderful thing as the Hoops picked up a third straight league win that day and would go on to pick up three more wins in the next four, scoring three or more goals in all of those matches. Since then, the Hoops have dropped off significantly, having been defeated in five of their six matches since New Year’s Day. The only exception to this was a 2-2 draw last weekend at Eastbourne Borough.
The Tigers have picked up seven points in that same timeframe, having beaten St Albans City and Eastbourne Borough, whilst sharing the spoils with Weston-super-Mare in a 3-3 draw, all three of these results having been picked up at Treyew Road.
Mark Jones knows the importance of trying to battle out of this barren spell:
We make the long trip to Truro looking to turn around our recent run of bad results. When things aren't going well, like they aren't for us at the moment you have to stand up and show some character and fight.
I think we need to get back to basics and try to work as hard as we can to get ourselves a win which would make everyone feel a lot better!
It takes many things to win a game of Football. Of course, you need quality, organisation, belief etc, but I'd like our lads to show real battling qualities to get ourselves over the line. There is no doubt that we aren't playing with great confidence at the moment, which is not unusual considering the poor run of results. The only way to get our confidence back is by winning and to do that it comes back to that hard work and desire to get the job done.
At the same time, he knows it wasn’t all one way traffic on Tuesday night:
We started the game very well against Welling and should've been leading, but when Welling scored against the run of play it really affected us. We need to be mentally stronger than to let one goal affect us so badly.
We know it will be a tough game Saturday, Truro are a good side and the pitch isn't a great surface. It's also quite a tight pitch. Lets hope we can put in a good performance that will help us get some points on the board.
The Hoops have mid-week off this week and will return to action next Saturday at Marsh Lane as they welcome Billericay Town to Marsh Lane in the National League South, 3pm kick-off.