Oxford City are without a win in five in the Vanarama National League South after slipping to a 2-1 defeat against fellow strugglers Concord Rangers on Saturday.
Hoops’ hopes of salvaging a point from the away trip were dashed when the Beach Boys scored the match winner with just 10 minutes left.
An experimental formation featured Joe Oastler, Cristian Navarro and Conor Stevens lined up in a back three in front of ‘keeper Craig King, leaving Eddie Jones and Freddie Grant to protect the flanks.
A midfield three of Mamadou Fofana, Godfrey Poku and Zac McEachran were deployed in the centre of the pitch while Matt Paterson cut a lonely figure up front with Rob Sinclair in behind.
Femi Akinwande opened the scoring with the first real chance of the half as the new-look Hoops struggled to get a foothold.
Running repairs to a set of wonky goalposts provided a brief stoppage in the half before King was forced into a save on 37 minutes from a Concord free kick from the edge of the area.
McEachran’s wild shot five minutes later was soon forgotten when the young midfielder unleashed an effort that rattled the outside of Beach Boys’ post.
It was the City goalpost’s turn to feel the good vibrations in the second half as Akinwande came close to doubling his tally, crashing his effort against the woodwork.
McEachran pulled the strings for the Hoops as Grant met his cross at the back post to sweep home for the leveller on 57 minutes.
But with less than 10 minutes remaining, Stephen Cawley popped up with an emphatic finish to deny City a share of the spoils.
Manager Mark Jones said: “We are in a relegation battle now, there’s no doubt about it.
“We’ve got to stick together and fight these next 13 games.
“I’m not a quitter, I’ll keep going and try and prepare the players as best we can and hope the players can go on the pitch and do the job.”
Hemel Hemstead Town make the trip to 13th placed Oxford City on Saturday.