OXFORD City Stars’ title challenge is over.

A surprise 5-3 home defeat at the hands of Raiders 2nd in South Division 2 finally

ended any lingering hopes of securing the top spot.

Stars are now five points off top spot and

have just two matches remaining, meaning third place is now the best-possible finish they can secure.

Against Raiders they were always chasing the game, but had plenty of opportunities to run out winners in the final period, but were thwarted time and time again.

Stars gave a debut to 17-year-old netminder Daniel Trueherz, who was soon in action as Raiders started the brighter.

But having seemingly weathered the early storm with Josh Oliver and then Lee Richardson going close, Stars fell behind when Samuel Austin fired home.

They levelled before the end of the period when Matt Lawday continued his fine goalscoring form with a flicked shot over Raiders netminder Bradley Windebank.

Stars struggled to get going after the restart and it came as no surprise when the visitors retook the lead.

Although Trueherz saved an initial shot on goal, Ewan Hill was in the right place to fire home.

But the hosts hit straight back and restored parity just 11 seconds later, Oliver scoring from distance after good work by Michal Oravec, who picked up his second assist of the game.

Less than a minute later though, and Stars were behind again when Brandon Webster finished off a neat move involving Tommy Huggett and Sam Roberts.

The visitors extended their lead in the 34th minute when George Gell scored, following a defensive error.

The scoring was not over, however, Josh Florey reducing the deficit to 4-3 with a thunderbolt.

The third period saw the game open up and become end-to-end.

Stars dominated territory and possession but found Windebank in imperious form.

He saved 22 shots in the final period alone, to give him a match total of 50 saves.

Richardson, Darren Elliott and Dax Hedges had the best chances for Stars, but the 16-year-old visiting netminder held strong.

As Stars pushed for the equaliser, they were caught on the break with Webster adding his second to secure victory.

Oxford have two games this weekend when they travel to play Chelmsford on Saturday before hosting Cardiff Fire in their last regular season game on Sunday, at Oxpens (6.15pm).

They will be looking to get back to winning ways in time for the play-offs, which start on the weekend of April 20/21.