A BELOW-STRENGTH Oxford City slipped to a 1-0 defeat at St Albans on Saturday.

Despite twice hitting the woodwork, the narrow loss in Vanarama National League South saw Mark Jones’s side fall to four points off the play-off places.

With three players unavailable due to injuries or suspensions and Sam Nombe having departed at the end of his loan spell, City could name only a 14-man squad.

The visitors had the better of the early chances, however, Kabongo Tshimanga and Bobby Bawling both shooting wide early on.

The deadlock was very nearly broken in the 15th minute when a mix-up between St Albans goalkeeper Dean Snedker and Dave Diedhiou saw the latter head against his own post.

A drab game came to life in the second period.

Within five minutes of the restart, City had struck the woodwork for a second time.

Reece Fleet’s curling effort from the edge of the area beat Snedker, only to come back off the inside of the post and fall to safety.

Craig Fasanmade then went close, his shot from six yards after a Tshimanga cross was somehow deflected behind.

Long throws from the hosts caused City’s defence problems, but the visitors stood firm.

With 15 minutes remaining and the game firmly in the balance, City finally had the ball in the net, only for Tshimanga’s effort to be ruled out for offside.

Ben Jefford then produced a last-ditch tackle to dispossess Sam Merson in the box, the visitors breaking for Tshimanga to flash a teasing ball right across the face of goal.

But with five minutes remaining, the hosts won it when Khale Da Costa delivered the ball into the box for David Moyo to head home at the far post.

With so little time remaining and the tired visitors visibly flagging, the hosts had little trouble seeing the rest of the game out.

Defeat sees City drop to tenth, leapfrogged by their hosts, and ends an impressive run of scoring in 15 consecutive league games.

They return to action tomorrow, travelling to Maidenhead United in the Buildbase FA Trophy.

Oxford City: King, Jones, Carter, Ashby, Godwin-Malife, Jefford, Fasanmade (Otudeko 84), Fleet, Tshimanga, Self, Bawling. Subs not used: Otudeko, Barrett, O’Donoghue.