Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers vs Oxford United – L1 Play off final

This Saturday’s League One play-off final features Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United at Wembley Stadium. Kick off is at 16:15 and the game will be shown live on Sky Sports. The winners will get promotion to the EFL Championship.

Bolton Wanderers

Bolton enter the final after a 5-4 aggregate victory over Barnsley in the semi-finals. Under the guidance of manager Ian Evatt, the team has shown resilience and tactical acumen throughout the season. Key players for Bolton include their standout goalkeeper James Trafford, who has kept numerous clean sheets this season, contributing significantly to their defensive solidity.

Manager Ian Evatt has emphasized the importance of teamwork and consistency, highlighting the squad’s determination to achieve promotion. He noted the team’s preparation and the crucial role of their supporters in driving them forward.

Team news. There are no fresh injury concerns within the squad for Ian Evatt and his staff to have to worry about ahead of the final. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has been back in training this week so he will be raring to go if called upon for the weekend.

Bolton expect to be cheered on by over 30,000 fans. This is Bolton’s first play off final since 2001 when they beat Preston 3-0 to gain promotion to the Premier League. Bolton were also at Wembley last season when they beat Plymouth Argyle 4-0 to win the EFL Trophy.

Oxford United

Oxford United, managed by Des Buckingham, reached the final following a strong performance in their semi-final games against Peterborough winning 2-1 on aggregate. Buckingham praised Bolton’s quality and recognized the challenge ahead but maintained a focus on his team’s strengths and strategies Oxford’s recent form has been mixed, but they have shown they can rise to the occasion in crucial matches.

The U’s will rely on key players like midfielder Cameron Brannagan and striker Matty Taylor to lead their attack. Buckingham’s tactical approach and the team’s ability to execute under pressure will be critical for their success.
36,000 United fans are expected at Wembley.

Team news: United have no fresh injury concerns, leaving Head Coach Des Buckingham to decide whether or not to name an unchanged starting XI for the fourth successive game.

Oxford are featuring in a Football League play-off final for just a second time – they were beaten 2-1 by Wycombe Wanderers in the 2019-20 League One final.

Head to head

The teams have met 29 times since 1968, with Oxford Utd winning 8, drawing 9 and losing 12. There was also an FA Cup fourth round tie between the two teams, with the Southern League side Oxford losing 4-2 to top flight club Bolton. This season Bolton tonked Oxford 5-0 at home in March, and drawing 0-0 away to Oxford in November.

Match officials

The match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: Will Finnie
Assistant Referees: Paul Newhouse and Darren Williams
Fourth Official : Benjamin Speedie

Will Finnie has taken charge of a Bolton twice this season, firstly the opening game of the season when Bolton beat Lincoln 3-0 at home, then in February when Bolton beat Wycombe 2-1 at home. Will Finnie has taken charge of three Oxford games, the 3-0 away win at Fleetwood in September, then in December their 3-2 defeat at home to Derby, then recently Oxford 4-0 win at Burton. Will Finnie also took charge of the FA Vase at Wembley last Saturday.


The match day programme can be ordered here.

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