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OXFORD CITY FC - HISTORY & STATISTICS

© Chris Byrne 2010

1997-1998

The honeymoon period was very definitely over. City had produced tremendous excitement locally as they built up momentum and rose to the Isthmian Premier with four successive promotions, taking in a Vase Final along the way. But it had become clear the previous season, particularly after the inevitable loss of the goalscoring capabilities of Howard Forinton, that this season would be a difficult one, and it was no consolation to see on a website that bookmakers recognised this as well, installing City as favourites for relegation.
Jason Caffell, Keith Knight and Gary Murphy signed from Witney, and Steve Jenkins returned once more, but Alan Thorne admitted City had the lowest budget in a division containing some very big spenders, and went on to say that, “…we have flair, but probably not enough strength and physical commitment.”
Points were few and far between, and the team had to wait until December for a first home league victory, by which time, with just 14 points from 19 matches, City were well and truly stuck at the bottom of the pile and had replaced Alan Thorne with Kevin Brock as manager. Paul Lee was appointed as Director of Football and Peter Rhoades-Brown joined from Abingdon Town as player-coach.
Football was generally in a poor state around the County, with Abingdon Town and Thame United propping up the Isthmian First Division, and a very well-argued article in the Oxford Times questioned whether Oxfordshire had enough footballers locally to support three sides in the Isthmian Premier and First Division.
The club was still without an FA Cup win since its re-entry into that competition: Southern League Premier side Dorchester Town were City’s downfall in ’97. A Justin Lee goal had salvaged a draw at home, but a single goal on the Tuesday night in Dorset ended City’s involvement.

1997-8

A thumping 6-0 defeat of Southern League Cinderford Town in the FA Trophy raised morale in October, though Wisbech Town, who had just rejoined the Southern League from the Eastern Counties, won 2-0 at Court Place Farm in the next round.
League results continued to be poor, though, with goals from Concannon and Carlisle, a surprise 2-0 home win over Dagenham & Redbridge, who had demolished City 7-0 in Essex a month earlier, cheered the home supporters. Apart from a week in February, however, when they moved up one position, City stayed rooted to the foot of the table and relegation, accompanied by Hitchin and Yeading, was a mathematical certainty by early April with only three wins since the turn of the year.
Despite the poor form elsewhere, the team performed extremely well in the League Cup. Following wins over Braintree, Heybridge Swifts and Camberley in the earlier rounds, they battled to a narrow win over Carshalton in the Quarter-Final. The Semi-Final was a two legged affair against Boreham Wood and goals from a Boreham Wood defender and Liam Herbert gave them a slim 2-1 lead to take into the return game where they surprised their opponents with an attacking game that produced a brace from Ian Concannon and a third goal from Andy Smith. . Unfortunately they were overpowered by Sutton United in the Final – played, disappointingly, at Harrow’s ground instead of Millwall’s Den as had originally been planned. Joff Vansittart, the league’s top-scorer who had had a trial at Oxford United, netted five as City went down 1-6.
Though they had overcome Henley Town and then Carterton, the 1st XI lost a penalty shoot-out to Witney Town in the final of the Senior Cup; and the Reserves, who had had a respectable Suburban League season, lost to Hook Norton in a similar manner in the Intermediate Cup.
Paul Lee took over from Kevin Brock as manager in the close-season, but Peter Rhoades-Brown declined the offer of the position of Coach.

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