Will it be ninth time lucky? Mark Jones will be hoping so as his side still look for their first win of 2019. Chippenham Town is the destination this weekend as the Hoops hope to end their lean run at Hardenhuish Park at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
Mark Jones saw his side lose a 2-0 half time lead against Billericay Town last weekend after Kabongo Tshimanga’s first half brace was cancelled out in a 12-minute salvo by the visitors in which Moses Emmanuel, Jamal Loza and Joe Kizzi stole all three points for the Essex side.
Despite defeat, City’s manager was encouraged by some of the signs on show – “We looked more threatening, and I thought we were a bit unfortunate not to get anything from the match”
City’s only point of the year came three weeks before as a late Joe Oastler header earned a point against Eastbourne Borough, a match that saw goalkeeper Craig King sent off. In fact, the Hoops will be without their stopper again this weekend after Craig King picked up a second booking after last Saturday's final whistle. With this being his second sending off of the season, he will now miss Saturday’s match and Tuesday’s match against Oxford United in the OFA Senior Cup.
Steven Caro will therefore come in to replace the stopper between the sticks, however Zac McEachran and Reece Fleet remain out due to injury.
Frankie Musonda rescued a point for the Hoops the last time that the sides met in the league – a 1-1 draw at Marsh Lane seeing the sides share the spoils] on the final Tuesday of October. The Hoops did everything in the first half other than score, however Nat Jarvis took full advantage by netting just minutes into the second half. Musonda then pounced on a goalkeeping mistake to prod home from a matter of millimetres to rescue a point.
The Bluebirds took maximum points last season, winning both home and away fixtures. The matchup at Hardenhuish Park fell on August Bank Holiday Monday and was something of a thriller. It was 1-1 after 10 minutes as Will Richards tapped home from close range, before Zac McEachran’s superb free-kick found the net. The hosts then took control as James Guthrie and Adam Sandell gave them a 3-1 lead just after half time. Matt Paterson halved the arrears from the spot, before Jared Thompson was the hero for Chippenham as he pulled off an outstanding last gasp save to prevent Lee Henderson from snatching a point.
April Bank Holiday’s fixture only yielded a single goal – Jake Jackson’s strike right on the half hour was enough for the visitors to take full bragging rights for the season.
Chippenham go into the weekend fixtures, perhaps unsurprisingly, in better form than the Hoops. In fact, their last five games have seen a return of three wins, one draw and a loss. The victories have been against Truro City (2-1), Hungerford Town (3-1) and most recently Weston-super-Mare (1-0), while they have drawn with Hemel Hempstead, and fallen to defeat against Welling United.
Oxford City boss Mark Jones knows things won’t get any easier in this league:
“Chippenham is a very difficult place to go, they are a good side and their manager has done very well with them.
“I thought there were some encouraging signs from our performance at Billericay last weekend. We looked more threatening that we had in recent games and I thought we were a little unfortunate not to pick up anything from the game.
“We need to keep going, nobody is going to give us anything, we need to keep applying ourselves as much as we can, and hopefully if we keep getting in the right areas and we keep believing in ourselves, results will turn.
“We’ve trained well this week, we’re going to look forward to the game, we’re going to try and take the positives from last week’s games into Chippenham, but to get something there, we’re going to have to up our game to get anything out of it.”