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Oxford beat Bolton in League One playoff final, return to second tier for first time since 1999

Oxford United beat Bolton Wanderers in League One playoff final, and return to the second tier for first time since 1999.

The U’s, who went into the game as underdogs, were the better side in the first half, holding off Bolton and then went ahead on 31 minutes through Josh Murphy.

The man born in Wembley got the ball down the inside left channel and Wanderers allowed him to cut inside far too easily.

He struck a firm curling shot that took a deflection off the head of Bolton’s Ricardo Santos and went past Nathan Baxter in the Bolton goal.

Peter Rhoades-Brown (Former Oxford and Chelsea winger on BBC Radio Oxford): “To go and take the lead at Wembley is massive. And looking at the celebrations from the Oxford fans, all I can say is… WOW! Now we’ve got to focus and continue applying the pressure.”

Andy Hinchcliffe (Former Man City and Everton defender on Sky Sports): “Josh Murphy was the Oxford player we thought could massively affect the game. It comes down to positive play from Oxford and poor defending from Bolton. As defender, you’ve got to do more than that. You’ve got know what Murphy is going to do, you’ve got to stay facing him, you’ve got to try and get a block in. You can’t allow him space else he’ll hurt you.”

Dan George (BBC Sport at Wembley Stadium): “A sea of yellow erupts to our right-hand side. The U’s supporters break into chants of “we are going up” with yellow smoke bombs let off and flags furiously waved in the air. A big goal for Oxford and boss Des Buckingham.”

Oxford were 2-0 up 42 minutes, Josh Murphy on the end of wonderful ball through from Ruben Rodrigues and controlled it perfectly to go round the Bolton keeper Nathan Baxter and confidently rolled it in from the angle.

Peter Rhoades-Brown: “What a touch from Rodrigues! The vision that boy’s got. It looked like it was going wide but somehow Murphy scores… wow, unbelievable. We’re leading 2-0 but it’s not over yet.”

Andy Hinchcliffe: “Josh Murphy’s touch is so important. When you are moving at pace, this is difficult. To get the ball out of your feet, round the goalkeeper and still keep it in a position to tuck it home is outstanding. This first-half for Des Buckingham has been quite brilliant.”

Dan George: “What a massive goal that is, scoring right before the break and going two up is a massive statement from the U’s. Bolton supporters stunned after that second Murphy strike, over to them to see if they can respond. The other (yellow) half of the ground is bouncing!”


Dan George: “Jubilant scenes in the yellow half of Wembley at the break but a stark contrast over the other side. Loud boos ring out from the Bolton supporters as the whistle is blown. They need to create more and test Jamie Cumming in the second half for me. Bolton still yet to register a shot on target, Oxford have had three.”

Peter Rhoades-Brown: “The players will be in the dressing room right now making sure they don’t start thinking too far ahead. They’ve done magnificently well, but they’ve got 45 minutes left. They can’t afford to start waving at their family or the fans. My advice: Don’t change anything and don’t sit back. We have to squeeze them.”

Jobi McAnuff (Ex-footballer on Sky Sports): “The Bolton defenders are being really slow with their tempo with the ball. They’ve got move it a lot quicker in that second-half. It’s gone absolutely to plan for Oxford United so far.”

Dan George: “Josh Murphy is loving the occasion of this game at Wembley. A real threat in behind with his pace, a tool that the U’s midfielders are looking to utilise and maximise today. The Oxford fans here are still bouncing, the Bolton supporters growing frustrated with each chance they don’t capitalise on.”

On 63 minutes, Cameron Branagann went down on the turf for Oxford and was visibly upset that he couldn’t play any further. Marcus McGuane went on as his replacement.

Just after that, Josh Murphy was denied a hat-trick. Oxford getting on a Bolton corner as quick as that got it down the field for Murphy to speed on to. He got away from Gethin Jones, however his touch was a tad too heavy with Nathan Baxter able to close the angle and smother his shot.

Peter Rhoades-Brown: “So far this half Bolton have done what they’re supposed to do by getting the ball into the box and applying pressure. But Oxford are still holding onto this lead, and their fans have been incredible.”

Andy Hinchcliffe: “This is not the game the Bolton fans anticipated, not the performance from their team that they expected. Oxford have been so, so difficult to play.”

Oxford United defender Elliott Moore speaking to Sky Sports:

“What a feeling. I can’t put it into words what kind of feeling that is.

“Everyone associated with Oxford deserves that. Management and the fans were a different class tonight.

“[Bolton] are a very good side. We had to come with a game plan and we did it brilliantly.

“It’s been an up and down season for everyone. We had a rocky patch but [Des Buckingham] came in, settled it down and we’ve put in some good performances. That was one of the best.

“The fans have been brilliant throughout the season. To celebrate with them today, they deserve it as much as we do.”

Oxford United head coach Des Buckingham speaking to Sky Sports:

“We didn’t dream until the full-time whistle because we know how good Bolton are.

“To see what I’ve just seen, I don’t have words for it.

“I thought we were excellent today. I’m so proud to lead this team, I’m proud of what the players have just shown.

“I’m thankful to the club for giving us time and now it’s about building for the Championship rather than a League One campaign.

“We had a way we wanted to play against Bolton and we executed it well. I’m delighted with what I’ve just seen from the team, both in possession and out.

“We didn’t want them to dictate the whole game.

“We’ve got 35,000 people who have come to watch us play football so we have to be brave and these are the moments where you have to step up, trust yourself and back yourselves to do things.

“1990 was my first game. My nan took me up to Manor Ground and that was the first time I watched the club. We won 3-1 and I’ve been a fan ever since.

“The reason I came back here is because of the vision that was sold to me. My vision is closely aligned and I’m excited about what next year will look like.

“We will try and do our best to make people proud of what we do.”


Bolton boss Ian Evatt to Sky Sports:

“I can’t explain it really – now is not the time to go into too much detail but that was unrecognisable for us.

“We look at our best when we are fast, intense, energetic and from minute one that wasn’t there – whether that was the occasion or pressure, I don’t know but that was not acceptable.

“I apologise to all the supporters who came here today and witnessed probably our worst performance of the season.

“I don’t think we handled today well at all on the pitch. The game looked like we thought it would and credit to them, they were excellent.

“We looked slow, lethargic and one-paced. I don’t think there was a complacency – maybe there was a fear. It hurts and we have to soul-search and think about what happened and why – and how do we get better?

“I’m almost shell-shocked because I haven’t seen us play like that all season and to do it here on the biggest occasion is bitterly disappointing.”


Twitter suers reacted as Oxford beat Bolton in League One playoff final, and return to second tier for the first time since 1999…

@LTFCShirts: See you next season Blue Square Premier friends 🀝

@NickHampsey: Welcome to the championship lads, enjoy 🍺

@DemonicGolfer: Congrats from a Burnley fan, see you next season πŸ™‚

@Callum_SR: Ruben is about to go on a 3 week bender and I can’t wait to watch it unfold online 😍

@KerrieRoebuck: Absolutely well deserved. Just brilliant and I’m so pleased for you guys. Enjoy every moment next season.

@KrokodilPedro: Congratulations! Great match and great goals by Murphy!

@garry_hamer: Well done Oxford, you were the better side and out classed us today. Good luck for the championship

@ap_ccfc: Fantastic, many congratulations. Look forward to giving former Bluebirds a good reception πŸ‘

@loodofsquit: Congrats to you all. Another yellow club in the championship is always welcome

@MisterTomox: Vernon Kay! Peter Kay! Kevin Nolan! Sara Cox! Ivan Campo! Paddy McGuinness! Amir Khan! Fred Dibnah! Jay Jay Ococha! Your boys took one hell of a beating! #oufc πŸ’›πŸ’™

@DJ7gaga: Thankyou I can’t believe it. My dad has terminal cancer and all I wanted from a few weeks ago was a dream for Oxford to be promoted for him as he only has a few months if that. Thankyou everyone and what a performance today. #oufc

The β€˜where’s your promotion party’ video
The β€˜best team in League One’
The playoff pitch invasion
The cockiness with 3 games in hand
Absolutely stellar day to be Champions.
Huge well done to #OUFC, fully deserved on the day, see you in the Championship next season 😌

@JonoVallans: As hilarious as it is seeing the best team in League One not get promoted, Oxford were superb the entire game – congrats on promotion! See you next season 🀝 #oufc

@bluesaint72: Congratulations πŸ‘ See you next season. Well done the ex Cardiff boys too – 4 of them. Good to see Josh have a great day too.

@circa88football: β€˜That tastes like promotion πŸ₯³πŸ˜‚’ – love to see it

@SmithyWFC85: Congratulations Oxford. Fellow Yellows .

@EmlynBegley: I genuinely don’t know if there was a single minute since maybe October or November that I actually thought we were going to get promoted. Don’t think it’s sunk in at all yet. I was in school last time Oxford were in the second tier and I’m 40 now #oufc

@charlie_hayne96: Can’t stand Oxford but you have to give them huge credit. Apart from a blip last season they’ve finished 5th, 8th, 6th & 4th in 4 of the last 5 seasons. If you show that consistency & recruit the right players you will eventually have success. Fair play to them πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ» #OUFC

@_BobSays: Congratulations you lot, catch you next season @stokecity πŸ’ͺ❀️🀍

@AntEvans88: Congrats lads fully deserved

@SupremeLeaderD3: Unbelievably happy for Oxford. Always liked they way they played and the resilience they showed this season. See you next season. #OUFC #PAFC

@whybruv27: Congratulations des @DesBuckingham

@Jonashp99: Congratulations!! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ

@millington_ryan: Congrats πŸ™Œ PUP

@simsamsuk: I am a Bolton fan, well done totally deserved, hope you prosper next season

@joshmontage656: Congrats lads

@RobCourt7: Congratulations, so pleased for your fans. Elliot Moore is an absolute beast.

@susie351975: Welcome to the Championship guys πŸ‘πŸ‘

@Tom_Armo96: Congratulations, this was your year! Lincoln Fan βšͺοΈπŸ”΄

@AmberArmy1912: Congrats guys good luck in Championship

@dan_masonn01: I’m so happy for Brian and Owen Dale, and it might be time to admit Brannagan made the right choice🀣 congratulations!

@RaggedDan: Probably the happiest day of my life, absolutely over the moon, Buckingham and the entire squad have utterly outdone themselves πŸ’›πŸ‘

@richarddoxsey: Congratulations, fully deserved on the day !!

@MJRose_: Absolutely battered them πŸ‘

@VeeKaay33: Des did it…

@Charlie72169993: Well done lads, welcome to the championship πŸ‘

@HarrisonRey88: Yes the boys

@danieliwnI: congratulations boys πŸ‘ see you next season

@JackLangley93: Congrats & welcome to the championship. Another good day out for many next season!

@scfc_wilt: Congrats and welcome to the championship πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

@Keenan69Ray: Well done Oxford πŸ‘

@RhyL34: Makes it even better knowing Thogden will be crying his eyes out.

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