Stockport County 2

(Howard 1, 85)

Oxford City 0

A brace of goals separated by 84 minutes from Iain Howard condemned Oxford City to defeat at fellow Skrill North strugglers Stockport County on Saturday, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.

City travelled to Edgeley Park just over a month after beating Stockport 4-1 at Marsh Lane, and just as on that day, they fell behind with a minute on the clock.

Howard was allowed to run through a static visitors’ backline before chipping over recalled goalkeeper Victor Francoz to give the hosts an early lead.

It was the worst possible start for City, but they recovered their composure and created chances of their own.

Kayden Jackson found space on the left-hand side, but his finish was weak and easily gathered by home goalkeeper Ian Ormson.

Soon after, Tom Winters made the most of a quick free-kick to deliver a dangerous ball across the face of goal which was spilled by Ormson, but City were unable to take advantage.

Instead it was the hosts who came closest to finding the net when dangerous winger Rhys Turner stole the ball from the fingertips of Francoz only to see his effort blocked by the hand of Adam Learoyd.

But, despite the protests of the home side, referee Peter Wright waved play on.

City looked much brighter in the second half, but missed a glorious opportunity to haul themselves level just moments after the restart.

Jackson burst through the Stockport defence before rounding Ormson, but with the goal gaping, contrived to shoot wide of the near post.

That was as good as things would get for City, and despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession throughout the second half they were unable to find a way through the Stockport defence.

And as the visitors committed more men forward, Stockport were able to make the most of the extra space they were afforded to create chances of their own.

Jordan Fagbola headed straight at Francoz when presented with a free header just six yards from goal.

Substitute Adrian Moke caused City plenty of problems when he was introduced, seeing his effort smothered by Francoz after a dangerous ball across the box.

City were let off again when Phil Jevons shot over after finding space in the area, but it turned out to be a temporary reprieve as Howard struck again late on to seal their fate.

Receiving the ball in space on the left-hand side, he took time to pick his spot before unleashing a powerful drive across goal and into the far corner of the net.

Despite the defeat, City remain above Stockport on goal difference ahead of an important Boxing Day fixture at home to Gloucester City, who occupy the final relegation spot and trail City by just three points.

Oxford City: Francoz, Palmer, Stonehouse, Pook (McNish 55), Learoyd, Willmott, Jackson, Malone (Cook 74), Symons (Robinson 71), Pond, Winters. Subs: Benjamin, Ballard.

Referee: P Wright.

Attendance: 1,184.