Oxford City - November 2020
On the field
November seems to be the month of the draw in the league as we struggled to keep our relentless pace up from October. It was also a month peppered with 3 cup games as we needed to rotate heavily. Still undefeated in the league and we played some promotion rivals including St Albans and Bath.
It started off well enough as we came back from a goal behind against Gloucester to comfortably win 3-1 and take advantage of one of our games in hand. We then had 1st Round FA Cup day, the biggest day in Non-league football and i fancied our chances against a struggling League 2 Ebbsfleet. We had St Albans in the league just 3 days afterwards so i actually rested some players for the Cup game as i wanted to go out and beat St Albans and make up some more ground in the promotion hunt.
It didn't seem to matter as Ebbsfleet were poor and Charley Kendall continued his excellent season to score a brace before we conceded late on it was ended up being a comfortable 2-1 victory away to League opposition. Our reward was a big home tie against Sunderland in the 2nd round. A tie we played later in November and one where we walked away with some pride. It didn't start well against the Black Cats as we were 3-0 down within 27 minutes but we pegged it back to 3-2 thanks to goals from Clarke and Kendall but we instantly conceded a 4th to go in at half time 4-2 down. A 5th Sunderland goal killed any hopes off of a remarkable comeback but i was happy with the two goals we scored as we bowed out of the FA Cup. It was a bumper crowd though with 4800 odd people in the stadium. Not bad considering we have been averaging around 300 for our hime matches in the league. Which by the way is half of what we were getting last season, as the stadium move has killed our fan base.
Whilst we are on the Cups, we took on Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Trophy and this time Connor Slack was the hero as he scored two with James Vennings getting a first for the club with a 35 yard screamer to see us win 3-1 and progress to the 1st round proper where we will play Notts County away from home.
Back to the league campaign and we ended November with three 1-1 draws on the bounce against St Albans, Concord and Bath City. We were deadly unlucky against St Albans as we conceded a 96th minute equaliser whilst we missed some glorious chances against both Concord and Bath to prevent us taking maximum points. Still we managed to end our run of defeats against Bath and perhaps i might have a chance should we have to face them again the play-offs.
A hald decent month there and we are now in a play-off position but it is still incredibly tight. 9th looks a fair distance away so really we should be getting a top 8 finish this season keeping the board ecstatic. However, we need to shake off one more team to guarantee that play-off spot but right now i am focusing on that 2nd or 3rd spot as it will make a massive difference playing at home in the play-offs and also having a round less to get through. We have both Weymouth and Barnet in December so we have the perfect chance to make inroads.
One thing we do need to be careful about is suspensions building up. We had 3 red cards alone in November and our yellow card tally is building and particularly in defence we dont have the greatest back ups and as well as our attack our performing this year, if we have no defence we could start losing or drawing games we should be winning. I suspect that is what happened this month as i constantly needed to rotate anyway due to fatigue so with suspensions also causing us issues we were bound to find it a little tricky. Injuries have also started to creep in for the first time this save, nothing serious but Josh Ashby has had a few knocks meaning he has had to miss out and with him being our most consistent and therefore best player, i feel like we have carved out less chances without him on the pitch.
Still the board are happy and we are well on course to meet all of their competition expectations. Time to get stuck into the festive season again.