2019 has, so far, been a tough year for the Hoops with Mark Jones' men still looking to pick up their first win of the new year. As seems to be the case most weeks, things are set tog et no easier this weekend with the visit of yet another top five side in the shape of Billericay Town.
At the start of the season this would have been billed as a clash with one of the title favourites, however a disastrous end to December saw the Blues lose a significant amount of ground on the division's front-runners amidst rumours of an impending financial collapse.
Things seem to have now stabilised both on and off of the pitch for the Essex club, but the eight points separating them from top spot will seem like a yawning chasm with Woking and Torquay United both holding a game in hand to compliment their points advantage.
Last weekend's visit to Truro provided another lacklustre City performance, resulting in a reasonably convincing 2-0 defeat. Mark Jones can at least welcome goalkeeper Craig King back into his lineup following his one match suspension, but will still require a significantly better performance from all of his squad if they're to come away with three points.
He may at least be buoyed by the memory of his first encounter with the Blues: when the Hoops visited New Lodge in early December, the hosts were unbeaten on home soil.
90 minutes of action later, this was no longer the case.
Things started far from brightly for City, two early chances almost putting the hosts ahead before the breakthrough finally came via a corner. The Hoops, however, were not deterred and struck back just before the break – Zac McEachran linking up with Kyran Wiltshere for the latter to find the bottom corner. Having left it late to score in the first half, City were ahead within two minutes of the restart courtesy of Ross Lafayette's own goal, and went on to take a 3-1 lead when Sam Nombe slammed home the loose ball after Jack Self's effort had been saved and Kabby Tshimanga's follow-up had found the post. Lafayette was able to make amends for his earlier error by pulling one back late on, but it meant nothing as the visitors held firm to take victory.
Based on the last five matches, Billericay are currently the National League South's form side – four consecutive wins following January's 2-2 draw at Concord. The Hoops, meanwhile, stopped looking at that particular table a few weeks ago but may have still caught a glimpse at the fact that they sit firmly bottom. The minutest modicum of comfort can be found when looking at the visitor's recent away form which demonstrates a little more fallibility, although the back-to-back league defeats to St Albans and Chelmsford currently tarnishing their 'last 5' date all the way back to December's lean patch.
Craig King's return aside, Mark Jones will select from an unchanged squad with Zac McEachran and Ben Jefford once again ruled out with knee and ankle injuries respectively.
Oxford United season ticket holders not making the long trip to Blackpool this weekend can enjoy a £2 discount on entry to this fixture, a 3pm kick-off at Marsh Lane.