By The Oxonian

TO Oxford City on Tuesday night for the final home game of the season as they took on promotion-seeking Bromley.

It has been a tough season for the Hoops whose stay in the Vanarama National League will end at Altrincham on Saturday, but the mood in the camp was far from despondent. Indeed, they will finish in their highest ever league position even if that is bottom of the table.

I don’t think City truly believed they would win promotion last season. Their budget was mid to top of the league, but manager Ross Jenkins had assembled a very talented squad and in the end a play-off victory earned them an unexpected trip to the tip of the non-league pyramid.

The odds were against them from the very start. One of just three part-time teams, City’s playing budget was half that of any other team in the division, a third of Bromley’s and maybe a quarter of champions Chesterfield.

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The momentum from promotion enabled them to start well but gradually real life encroached on the fairy tale and they started to slip down the table. Injuries to key players like Josh Ashby, Zac McEachran and Canice Carroll knocked the rhythm and form, and by February they were already playing six-pointers.

A 3-2 defeat at rivals Kidderminster, from 2-0 up, was arguably the key moment and City’s relegation became inevitable by March.

So what next for the Hoops? Well, lessons will have been learned. They have a new general manager behind the scenes and they had an admirable boss on the pitch in the highly-respected Jenkins.

They have an ambitious owner in Justin Merritt, and they recently announced an impressive new advisory board – spotted behind the goal on Tuesday night and looking relaxed despite an impressive Bromley, managed by former Oxford United keeper Andy Woodman, winning 3-1.

Witney Gazette:

I think City will come back from this season even stronger. Remember when Oxford United dropped into the Conference? It was a huge learning curve.

Lincoln, Wrexham, Notts County, even Premier League Luton Town took time to adjust and find a way to be successful at that level. City have fought hard and will learn from each game they played.

Last Saturday, another former League club, Oldham, visited and brought 800 fans. Half of them stayed in the new beer garden that City have built! Whether it was Bromley, Oldham or Altrincham, everyone who visited the RAW Charging Stadium this season enjoyed the warm welcome, the hospitality and a visit to our beautiful city.

That’s a good place to start, and City’s outstanding work in the community – they have new sessions for wheelchair football this weekend, a rapidly expanding Women’s department and I saw signs for a new walking football programme – will continue to grow, no matter which division the first team play in.

It defies all football convention but Oxford City go down with their heads unbowed, smiling, and with plenty to look forward to next time around.