OXFORD City boss Mark Jones hopes his new-look side can put their dismal start to the new year behind them when they travel to Eastbourne Borough tomorrow.

A run of four straight league defeats in January – culminating with a 7-2 reverse at Torquay United – has seen City slip down to 13th, leaving their outside play-off aspirations in tatters.

But Jones insists last week’s enforced break due to the snow has allowed his side to recharge the batteries ahead of the final 15 Vanarama National League South games of the season.

He said: “I think it may have been a blessing in disguise to have that extra week off, since the Torquay game.

“We’re obviously coming off the back of a very poor January, and we’ve used that week off to put in some really good work that will hopefully get us back on track.”

Jones will hand debuts to new signings Tarek Moore-Azille, Joel Dielna and Brandon Thomas-Asante for the trip to Sussex, and the City boss is hopeful of a change of fortunes.

“Since that Torquay game, we’ve had four really good training sessions and have been able to work the players quite hard,” he said.

“The enforced break has also allowed the new lads to settle in, get to know the club and the other players and get a feel for the place.

“I am really hoping that we can use the break to our advantage and push on.”

Eastbourne are another side who play on a 3G pitch, and while Jones knows the size of the task ahead, he believes City can still end the season in a positive fashion.

While seemingly accepting a top-seven finish is now a long-shot, he says there is still plenty to play for.

Jones commented: “The reality is, I don’t think we need to worry about that now.

“We just need to focus on getting our game back on track.

“Our bad January has dropped us off the pace, so the pressure is off a bit, we just want to focus on playing well and taking one game at a time.”

Eddie Jones has now fully recovered from a hand injury and returns to the side, while Zac McEachran will be constantly assessed as he nurses a knee injury. Ben Jefford (ankle) remains sidelined.


Oxford City (v Eastbourne Borough, away): from King, Jones, Moore-Azille, Dielna, Oastler, Ashby, Fleet, McEachran, Wiltshire, Tshimanga, Thomas-Asante, Case, Self, Bawling, Fasanmade, Carter.