Just a couple of years ago, a weather-related rearrangement would have been a regular occurrence at this time of year. However, with the new artificial surface at Marsh Lane, these are certainly more of a rarity nowadays.
However, a re-arrangement is what we have as, when Oxford City and Woking were due to meet at the start of February, the heavy snowfall caused this match, and most in the south of England, to be called off. The two sides will try again tomorrow evening as they meet at Marsh Lane - a 19:45 kick-off.
Thankfully for both managers, the forecast does not show any snow for tomorrow evening, however the forecast of heavy rain and hail throughout the day will add a bit more spice to the fixture, even though it is due to stop before kick-off!
Even though we are a month further down the line, the two sides actually sit in the same league positions as they did ahead of the original tie on February 4th . This is certainly not the full story though: visitors Woking have closed the gap on leaders Torquay United and now sit below their title challengers on goal difference only. A point or more from tomorrow’s fixture would see them climb onto the top of the table, albeit having played a game more.
The Hoops’ playoff hopes are now certainly gone as they now sit 17 points adrift of 7th place Billericay Town. However, thanks to the run of results in November and December, they still sit 10 points above the drop zone and another 3 points will all but secure Step 2 football again next season.
City will have to see out the remaining nine games of the season without two of their key players. Zac McEachran and Ben Jefford are unfortunately looking unlikely to play again this season after injuries picked up earlier in the campaign. Thankfully though, Mark Jones welcomes back midfielder Reece Fleet - who came through 25 minutes on Saturday - and goalkeeper Craig King who, by sitting out Saturday's defeat against Hampton & Richmond, completed his two-match ban.
Neutrals will certainly have got their money’s worth from Saturday’s match. The first half alone saw punters pay just £2 a goal as the sides went into the interval at 3-3. Josh Ashby, Kabongo Tshimanga and Brandon Thomas-Asante netted to give the Hoops a chance of going into the break 3-2 up, however that wasn’t enough as the visitors scored with the last touch of the half to level the match up once again.
The second half produced two further goals, however they both went to visitors Hampton & Richmond who closed out a 5-3 victory.
While City’s match produced eight goals, Woking’s only produced two. Thankfully for the Cardinals, they were able to keep the pace up with Torquay United as they beat Chippenham Town 2-0 at Kingfield. The game was sealed in the first-half as a Jake Hyde brace went unanswered.
The reverse fixture also ended in victory for the Cards, who won by the odd goal in five in a thriller in the third match of the season.
City registered their first league goals of the season, Matt Paterson putting the Hoops ahead as a pin-point pass from Ashby found the striker, who found the net following a deflection off the ‘keeper. A quickfire double that spanned the break through a Max Kretschmar penalty and Hyde saw the hosts ahead, however Paterson levelled moment later from the spot.
Ben Jefford and Luke Ruddick both saw red for second bookable offences, and the hosts took advantage of their numerical superiority, Paul Hodges sealing the points ten minutes from time.
Speaking in his programme notes, Mark Jones was far from happy with what he saw on Saturday:
“I was extremely disappointed with the result and performance on Saturday against Hampton. I thought our attitude as a team to defend, deny space and track runners was to put it plainly, rubbish. There was a lack of responsibility throughout and I didn't feel we were 100% focused.”
However, he’s hoping his players bounce back and put on a good show tomorrow evening:
“What I'm looking for is a positive reaction from us tonight and what better game to do it in, under lights against the joint leaders. I don't like getting beat, but I can accept it if we go down fighting and having a go. I didn't feel that on Saturday, but it's gone now and we can’t go back. Let's try and learn from it and move forward.”