By David Richardson
MARK Jones says he’s never tasted FA Cup glory and with his Oxford City side struggling at the wrong end of the National League South there couldn’t be a better time to write some history.
City haven’t reached the first round since 2011 where they went out after a replay against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Now they head to League Two side Colchester United hoping to put their league woes behind them.
Jones’ side navigated past their division rivals Whitehawk and Bognor Regis Town in the second and fourth qualifying rounds with a home win over the Bostik League high-fliers Leiston inbetween.
Those are the only victories Oxford have had since their last league win which came on August 15, against Hungerford Town.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “We want to go there and give a good account of ourselves.
“One of our targets was to get to the first round. Another one was to be up and around the play-offs. We’re certainly not achieving that at the moment. A few things have conspired against us a little bit but we have managed to win three games in the FA Cup.
“We can play with not much pressure on us this week. We feel that we are better than a team in the relegation zone.”
Oxford have never reached the second round but came close in 1999 when their replay at Wycombe Wanderers was abandoned before a penalty shoot-out could take place after a fire broke out.
Wycombe went on to win the rescheduled fixture at Oxford United’s Manor Ground and it remains the only tie to go to a second replay after The FA changed the replay laws.
Now, 18 years later, Colchester’s 10,000 all-seater stadium awaits with Jones hoping to make some new history.
He added: “I played for Oxford City and Aylesbury United but I don’t remember having a great cup run. In my short time coaching at Oxford and now as the manager, we haven’t done particularly well in the FA Cup.
“This is probably my first real experience of having a cup run and getting a bit of exposure. I live in Aylesbury and remember as a youngster going to watch a couple of their runs in the 90s. They ended up playing at Queens Park Rangers in the third round one year.
“There’s always some shocks at this stage and we hope that one of them is us.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday.