ANDY Ballard says Oxford City must focus fully on climbing the Vanarama National League South table after crashing out of the FA Trophy in midweek.

A penalty shoot-out defeat at Hornchurch on Tuesday after an enthralling 4-4 draw means – aside from the Oxfordshire Senior Cup – all City’s games will now be in the league.

They host Dulwich Hamlet tomorrow, with caretaker joint-manager Ballard urging his side to continue moving in the right direction.

He said: “Cup competitions can sometimes be seen as a welcome distraction, but for me, it was more unwelcome.

“In some ways it’s a blessing in disguise that we can now focus on the important task of climbing the league.

“We’ve been unbeaten in the league since Mark (Jones) left, and we just need to keep that rich vein of form going moving forwards.

“I’ve been pleased with our battling qualities – we have shown that we have the right mentality to stay in games and to win games – but we all know we need to tighten up defensively.

“We’re an attacking side, and because of that, we are always susceptible to the counter-attack.

“But it’s a fine line between being an entertaining team rather than one that focuses solely on defending.”

Dulwich are just two points behind City and Ballard feels tomorrow’s game is one of the most crucial this season.

He said: “We need to keep this run going.

“But Dulwich are only just behind us, so make no mistake, this is a really important game for us. We need to get a positive result.”

Defender Tarek Moore-Azille (hamstring) is ruled out, while skipper Joe Oastler (knee) is doubtful.

Oxford City (v Dulwich Hamlet, home): from King, Jones, Jefford, Ashby, Oastler, Tapp, Wiltshire, Fleet, McEachran, Brown, Owusu, Benyon, Self, Rowe, Wright, Lofthouse, Berkoe.