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FOOTBALL: Fixture pile-up is a worry admits Ford
Oxford City manager Mike Ford says his Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division promotion-chasing squad will be stretched to the limit as they start a marathon run of four matches in eight days.
Tomorrow’s visit to Redditch United is followed by the Oxfordshire Senior Cup final on Tuesday, the re-arranged trip to Hemel Hempstead Town on Thursday and the home clash with Brackley Town two days later.
City were due to play Hemel on Easter Monday, but that was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
To add to Ford’s woes, striker Steve Basham is out for a week with a thigh injury and skipper Wayne Blossom starts a two-game suspension.
“The game getting called off at Hemel gives us a big headache,” said Ford.
“It’s probably the worst thing that could have happened, but we can’t do anything about it.
“We just have to make sure win our next couple of games “I think we can cope, but it will leave us very stretched.
“It’s going to affect the team selection for the Senior Cup.
“It would have been great for the players to be able to perform at a nice big stadium with a good pitch.
“But the league is our priority. I would like to field a team capable of winning the cup and I could probably play the same side against Hemel.
“My concern would be the Brackley game after that.”
Midfielder Darren Pond and and James Clarke return, while striker Albi Skendi is added after impressing for Oxford City Nomads.
Banbury United manager Ady Fuller believes two wins from their last three games can keep them up, starting with the trip to Hitchin Town.
Monday’s loss to Brackley put the Puritans in the relegation zone.
Fuller said: “I have always had faith in my players, but they need to show a bit of grit.
“It’s all about having the belief that we can get out of it. If we win two games we should be okay.
“I will be stressing to the players that Saturday’s game could be our final match of the season, because if we don’t get anything out of it we are going down.”
Strikers Danny Edmond and Josh Blake return, while Dan Chilton (hamstring) faces a late test.
Craig Dolman and Jake Thackeray are out injured.
Tomorrow's squads Oxford City (v Redditch, away): from Mooney, Clarke, Ballard, Pond, Willmott, Benjamin, Learoyd, Barcelos, Isaac, Lyon, Woodley, Martin, Bell, McCloughlin, Skendi.
Banbury Utd (v Hitchin Tn, away): from Kemp, Kinch, Chilton, Coleman, Howell, Cole, Johnson, Forinton, Williams, Blake, Polk, Angus, Richardson, Edmond.
END OF SEASON RUN-IN OXFORD CITY Tomorrow: Redditch United (a) Apr 19: Hemel Hempstead Town (a) Apr 21: Brackley Town (h) Apr 25: Frome Town (a) Apr 28: Hitchin Town (a) BANBURY UNITED Tomorrow: Hitchin Town (a) Apr 21: Leamington (h) Apr 28: Cirencester Town (a)
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