Oxford City boss Mike Ford has praised the tremendous efforts of his side and called for more of the same in the second half of their Blue Square Bet North.

Although they have lost successive games (2-0 at leaders Chester and 1-0 at second-placed Guiseley) Ford said the results did not reflect the progress City have made.

“If someone had told us that after 24 games we would have had 32 points then we would have snapped their hands off,” said Ford.

“Since we played Chester and Guiseley earlier in the season, I have seen a big improvement.

“We have reduced the margin considerably and we were unfortunate not to get something at Guiseley.

“If you look at our fixture list since Boxing Day, we have played Brackley twice, Boston – who had a new manager – away, Chester and Guiseley, and it has been a difficult period.

“But we have come out of it stronger and that will stand us in good stead. What we need to do now is to keep up that improvement.

“There will be times in the season when things don’t go how you want them to, but you have to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Ford was delighted with his side’s attitude at Guiseley where injuries a reshuffle in the line-up.

He said: “I had a left winger (Josh Mulvany) playing at left back, a centre back (Andy Gunn) at right back, another centre back upfront (Andy Ballard) and Callum McNish making his debut, but they just got on with it.

“I named five subs, but Mark Bell, Jamie Cook and Steve Basham were unable to play because of injury.

“Ballard was exceptional and I think his performance is a wake-up call to the strikers at the club.” City will be without midfielder Declan Benjamin (suspended) should tomorrow’s game with Halifax at Marsh Lane go ahead, though Holgate, Bell, Basham and Mark Bell will be fit to return.

But Ford added: “The pitch is bone-hard, so the chances of it being on are less than nil.”