STAYING clear of the Skrill North drop zone is Gloucester City manager Dave Mehew’s new year’s resolution.
The Tigers clambered out of the bottom three at the weekend thanks to a 1-0 victory at Worcester City, and Mehew is confident of remaining above the dreaded dotted line as key players return to fitness.
Tomorrow sees Mehew’s men play host to Oxford City, who sit one place and three points above them in the table.
It is another massively significant fixture at the Abbey Business Stadium, and the City boss will make no attempt to play that down at the start of 2014.
Mehew said: “There was no greater motivation on Saturday than knowing we would go above Worcester with a win.
“It’s the same against Oxford. Win and we go level on points with them, so the players are well aware of how important the game is.
“Most of the season has been about thin divides for us, and the odd goal here and there could have put us in a less precarious position.
“But people forget that we’ve been without Lewis Hogg for nine weeks, Matt Groves for six weeks and (right-back) Mike Green for six weeks.
“Tom Webb has also been missing for a couple of weeks, so we’ve had to battle on without some massively key players and any team would struggle with that.
“Our fixture schedule in the first half of the season has also been tougher than most, so if we get a bit more luck on the injury front I’m optimistic we can climb the league.
“We want 2014 to be about looking up the table rather than down it and obviously we want to start the new year with three points against Oxford.”
Saturday’s match winner was Connor Waldon, the on-loan Swindon Town teenager stroking home a first-half scorcher to see off the hosts at Aggborough.
Mehew was pleased with how the striker responded to some pre-match criticism, and also reserved special praise for the vastly more experience Hogg.
“I had a bit of a chat with Connor because I felt his performances in the previous couple of games weren’t quite up to the mark,” he said.
“It was constructive criticism, but you wonder how an 18-year-old will handle it and he took it on the chin and responded in the right way.
“I was really pleased with him, but I have to say Lewis Hogg was the outstanding player for us.
“To play 90 minutes twice in the space of a couple of days was impressive enough after being out for so long, but to make such an impact was incredible really.”