ANTHONY O’Connor will not break his habit and take a glance at the League One table if City can claim a first weekend win at Valley Parade for eight months this afternoon.

Whatever the result against Oxford, the skipper does not need reminding that the team remain up to their necks in the survival battle.

O’Connor admits the game against the side currently occupying fifth from bottom – the target if this train wreck of a season is to be salvaged – is arguably City’s biggest so far.

And a second home win - and first on a Saturday since March - could well lift them off the foot of the table. But O’Connor has no intention of taking a sneaky peak should it all go to plan.

“If we win, it would be good if that takes us off the bottom,” he said. “But I still won’t need to look at it because I know we’re in a massive fight – and it will probably be that way for the whole of the season.

“It’s not nice to see your name down there and that’s why I’ve tried to stop looking at it now. I don’t need to because we know where we are.

“Winning games now is the most important thing. Confidence is starting to come back into the group slowly but surely.

“It’s a massive game between two teams scrapping for their lives. I don’t think I’ll have to motivate the lads.

“There are a lot of games coming up going into the Christmas period and the chance to put plenty of points on the board. It’s important everybody stays positive.”

David Hopkin can sense a hardening in mentality within the dressing room as he looks to eke everything from a squad that he wants to rebuild come the next transfer window.

The penny has dropped, in his words, about the parlous plight in which City find themselves.

O’Connor added: “Players should recognise that early doors. If you don’t win games quickly then you can find yourself in a dog fight.

“I can’t make excuses. We deserve to be where we are because we haven’t won enough.

“The gaffer is right that the penny has dropped. The lads are showing they care – I’m not saying they didn’t before but they understand the seriousness of the situation.

“When you’re looking at the fixtures, you’re seeing more games go by. We know we have to start winning to try and get up the league.

“But I think this group can kick on with some confidence. Hopefully that started last week with a good result at Peterborough – we should have done that in a lot of other games like Sunderland and Portsmouth.”

The point at Posh snapped City’s six-game losing streak since their last league success at Wimbledon.

That win was also seen as a potential turning point – so O’Connor is careful not to get carried away by the away draw and FA Cup progress on penalties against non-league Aldershot.

“Two games on the spin isn’t much but it’s better than what we’ve had and hopefully we can kick on now,” he said.

“You notice when other teams go on a run – we’ve seen that Oxford haven’t lost in a while and will come here full of confidence.

“But I know from being in this group all season what quality it has with the type of players like David Ball and Jack Payne.

“It’s just not happened for one reason or another.

“If you looked at the team on paper before the start of the season, you’d have 100 per cent thought they would be in the play-offs.

“Obviously things haven’t gone like that. I’m not just making excuses but things haven’t gone our way – we’ve had so many injuries, one after the other, suspensions, some refereeing decisions.

“But you’ve got to make your own luck and can’t wait for anyone to do it for us. We can’t rely on the referee, we’ve got to take the game by the scruff of the neck ourselves.”

Hard-luck stories are par for the course with struggling teams. City can point to a growing list of perceived injustices, Peterborough’s offside-looking equaliser and the two FA Cup efforts that were flagged off just the latest “if only” calls from officials.

O’Connor admitted: “It’s very frustrating. Some of the officials we’ve had this season have made terrible decisions.

“But that’s football. It’s all done and dusted and we’ve got to look forward and be as positive as we can.

“Hopefully a big three points will galvanise the team to push on and get that winning feeling more often.”