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OXFORD CITY FC - HISTORY & STATISTICS

© Chris Byrne 2010

2003-2004

Mick Woodley stepped down as Chairman after 13 significant years and Brian Cox took over the reins. There were significant changes in playing personnel as well at the start of the new season as Craig Farley, Kelvin Mackintosh and Robert Cruse moved on to Maidenhead United; Matt Hayward returned to Aylesbury; and Howard Forinton, recovered from his ankle operation, linked up with Stevenage. Among the arrivals were Colin Simpson (Purfleet), Leeyon Phelan (Witney), Neil Crosby (Swindon) and Robin Antonowicz (Wallingford). However the nucleus of the side remained the same and Paul Lee felt they were stronger than before and he was aiming at a high finish in a season that would see the top eight promoted to the Premier Division as part of the reorganisation of the non-league ‘pyramid’.
The season got off to a good start with a 1-0 defeat of the Vase-Final opponents Arlesey, but league form, and, in particular, home form, was disappointing, and in fact there were only five home league victories all season: there were almost twice as many wins on the road.
The FA Cup trail got under way with a home tie against Farnham, and, though they were a goal behind after five minutes, generally controlled the game and ran out 5-1 winners. Hillingdon Borough were narrowly beaten 2-1 in a replay, while Wingate & Finchley were next up and, in a match played on a Sunday because of the Jewish New Year affecting the availability of many of the North London’s side’s players, City edged through 2-1. Howard Forinton returned to City for his third spell with the club in time for the visit of Cirencester Town in the next round, but made little impact in a poor performance that saw the Southern League side win 3-0.

2003-4

Folkestone Invicta, another Southern League side (the City’s ‘bogey-league’ for a number of years), visited Court Place Farm in the FA Trophy, and though newly-contracted Andy Ballard cracked his third goal in three games for the home side the Kent side ran out 4-1 winners to finish City’s involvement in national competitions.
The non-league reorganisation was on the mind of many club chairmen and, with the possibility of them ending up in the same division, Abingdon Town and United were holding talks about a possible merger.
Concerns at City centred more on the results and Paul Lee, who had been at the helm for five seasons, finally stepped down as manager after the home draw with Tilbury in early December. Assistant manager Micky Lewis, coaches Kelvin Alexis and Jan Varney, and physiotherapist Chris Perkins also moved on, as did several players. It fell to captain Julian Dark to act as manager when the team headed for Barking in midweek…and he promptly returned with the team’s first win in over a month. Andy Sinnott was appointed manager later in the week and had the satisfaction of seeing his new side beat his previous side, local rivals Thame United, in the Boxing Day derby, but he still had to wait until the middle of January to take his side to their first home league victory since the season’s opening day, when they completed what would be one of the season’s only two doubles, over Barking & East Ham: the other was against Thame.
Ardley United were comfortably beaten 3-0 in the Senior Cup quarter-final, but Banbury United proved tougher in the semi-final at Thame’s Windmill Road and the north Oxfordshire side went through to beat Oxford United in the Final at the Kassam Stadium.
Another nine victories, including three in seven days in late January, ensured that City pulled clear of the relegation zone that had threatened at the turn of the year, and an ultimately rather disappointing season ended on the first Saturday in May with a 2-2 draw against Dunstable Town, bringing down the curtain on City’s 81st and final Isthmian League season and also Julian Dark’s long playing career.

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