MARK Jones is leaving Oxford City with his head held high after exiting the club by ‘mutual consent’ yesterday.

Jones admitted he was disappointed his three-year spell as manager was over, with the announcement made hours before City were drawn to play Solihull Moors at home in the Emirates FA Cup first round.

In what proved to be his final game as manager, Jones’s side beat Margate 2-1 on Saturday to reach the first round for the third successive year.

City have struggled in Vanarama National League South this season and sit second-bottom, but Jones remains proud of his time at Court Place Farm.

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He said: “I can hold my head up high and I think I’ve done a decent job.

“I accept our league form hasn’t been great and ultimately it was decided it would be best to move in a different direction.

“I’m disappointed with how it’s ended, but these things happen in football and I would like to wish the club every success moving forward.”

Jones became caretaker manager in December 2016 after more than 100 games for City as a player.

He was given the role permanently at the end of the 2016/17 season after leading his side to a mid-table finish in the sixth tier.

But many of his highlights came in the Cup, including an historic 1-0 win at Sky Bet League Two side Colchester United in the first round in 2017/18 – City’s maiden Football League scalp.

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There were also televised games against Notts County and Tranmere Rovers, helping the club net almost £250,000 in prize money and other bonuses.

This has contributed to reducing the club’s debt, which stood at £1.5m in 2016.

Jones said: “There’s been some really enjoyable moments and none of those can be taken away from me.

“It’s been a pretty successful period in very difficult times for the club.”

Jones also leaves his role as head of City’s scholarship programme, with director of football Justin Merritt and assistant manager Andy Ballard taking over the first team temporarily.

They will be supported by goalkeeping coach Alan Foster and coach Ross Jenkins.

Merritt said: “Mark has given everything possible during his tenure as manager and there have been some amazing experiences, particularly the FA Cup successes.”

The club will announce the process for recruiting a permanent manager ‘at a later time’.

l THAME United host Winchester City in their FA Trophy Preliminary Round replay tonight (7.45), with the winners at home to Frome Town on Saturday.