OXFORD City were left to rue missed opportunities as they went down 1-0 at Vanarama National League South play-off chasers Maidstone United.

Justin Amulazor’s header just before the hour mark proved the difference as Andy Ballard’s side slipped to their third successive defeat.

City started quickly and could have taken a surprise lead after just three minutes with their first real chance.

Joe Oastler was left unmarked at a corner and powered a header against the bar, with Kevin Berkoe’s follow-up cleared off the line.

The visiting defence needed to be alert four minutes later when Ibby Alabi was first to a cross, but his effort was straight down the throat of Max Harris.

Elliot Benyon forced a smart save from home goalkeeper Chris Lewington seconds later as City continued to take the game to their opponents.

The two sides traded chances again midway through the half.

First, Harris saved well from Amulazor, before Lewington used his feet to deny another shot from Berkoe.

Maidstone’s stopper was again equal to the task when he punched away Josh Ashby’s free-kick as the sides reached the break on level terms.

Oastler was again involved at the start of the second half when he committed a foul as the last man, but the referee gave City’s captain the benefit of the doubt and produced a yellow card.

Harris tipped a deflected effort around the post in the 59th minute, but he was powerless to prevent Amulazor heading home the resulting corner.

City pushed for an equaliser and Ashby had another free-kick saved by Lewington with 20 minutes remaining.

But they struggled to create any clear-cut chances, despite Ballard throwing Jaanai Gordon and Nana Owusu into the fray in the closing stages.

Instead, Maidstone saw the game out to keep City 13th ahead of Saturday’s trip to third-placed Slough Town.

Oxford City: Harris, Jones (Gordon 82), Jefford, Asby, Moore-Azille, Oastler, Fleet, Berkoe (Owusu 89), McEachran, Benyon, Lofthouse. Unused: King, Wiltshire, George.

Attendance: 1,739.