This preview is going to start with a phrase that you’re going to become very familiar with in October – ‘Oxford City are at home on Saturday...’. With the Emirates FA Cup providing the Hoops with some favourable draws - and let’s not forget the favourable results – this weekend will see the second of four consecutive home assignments for City, who block out an entire month of Saturdays with matches at Marsh Lane.
What is certain though is that our opponents, and competition, will be switching around in these four weeks. This week, it’s a return for the MANarama National League South, with Dartford making a trip around the M25 and up the M40 for a 3pm kick-off in Oxfordshire.
Of course, it’s non-league day this weekend, and the club are offering all Premier League and EFL season-ticket holders £6 entry to Saturday’s match. Just show yours on the turnstiles on Saturday afternoon in order to take advantage of this offer.
For the second consecutive weekend at Marsh Lane, it’s going to be a 10-point battle. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there are 10 points on offer for the winners (however much we’d love for that to be a case), but it’s a matchup between two sides who currently sit on 10 league points.
In fact, the sides are so closely matched that they aren’t even separated by goal-difference. The Darts occupy the higher position in the standings courtesy of a superior record in hitting the back of the net.
But Mark Jones has moved this week to try and bridge that gap, with the signing of experienced striker Elliot Benyon. After gaining Football League experience at Torquay United and then Swindon Town, the forward then gained a reputation as a prolific striker in the National League South, with spells at Hayes & Yeading, Wealdstone and Whitehawk all being a success for Jones’ new signing.
The last meeting at Marsh Lane between the two sides came on the final day of the 2018/19 season. City would triumph 2-1 on the day, ending the Darts’ play-off hopes as Zac McEachran’s stunning finish from range, followed by Kabby Tshimanga’s excellent finish from close range saw the Hoops come back from a goal down to win.
Of course, that wasn’t the only fixture between the sides at Marsh Lane last season, with the Darts making the trip over to Marsh Lane almost a year ago to the day, as the sides battled it out in the Third Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup. The Hoops won this match also, to complete the ‘home double’, Kabby Tshimanga really announcing his arrival at Oxford City that day as he netted a hat-trick to see his side to a 4-1 victory.
The Darts, however, would ensure that the Hoops would gain a clean-sweep however, as they took the honours in the league fixture at Princes Park. The hosts would gain a 3-1 lead at half-time, as Andre Coker, Jordan Wynter and Charlie Sheringham all netted in the opening half-hour, Joe Oastler finding the net for the Hoops. A fighting second-half display really saw City the most likely after the break, however a Zac McEachran strike with 20 minutes to go was ultimately in vain.
Kick-off on Saturday afternoon is at 3pm, at Marsh Lane.
Mark Jones is calling on his side to try and turn recent good performances into results on Saturday:
“We’re looking forward to playing at home again tomorrow in league action against Dartford. Similarly to last week against Hampton in the cup, we’re playing a team who have a similar record to us, so we’re expecting it to be a tight game again.
I’ve been pleased with the boys’ attitudes over the past few weeks. Yes, we’ve not had the results that we would have liked, but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think the performances have been bad, but the results haven’t quite gone for us.
Fingers crossed with all of the injured players coming back, that will help us. Over the last couple of months where the squad has looked extremely thin, I’m hoping the senior players coming back will help us.
Our home record hasn’t been too bad over the last couple of games, and we want to try and continue that. Dartford will be coming to us motivated to try and move themselves up the table, just like we are.
We’re not happy with where we are. We’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, we are not in the position in the table that we would have liked to have been at this stage of the season.
But there have been some positives, and we want to keep those positives going into Saturday’s game, and put on a good home performance."