Up the U’s!

19 May 2024

Photo credit: Matt Gooderick, Head of Broadcast at Good Broadcast

Oxford United who last played in the Championship in 1999 have been promoted after 25 years back to the second tier of English football!

After playing in League one for the last 8 seasons, and only narrowly missing out on demotion to League two last season, the U’s fought their way to a respectable 5th place in League one.

They played fourth place Peterborough in the play offs and secured a 2-1 win on aggregate taking them to Wembley to face Bolton who finished ten points ahead of Oxford in the table.

Bolton, who played Barnsley in the play offs had lost in their second play off game but won on aggregate.

Bolton were justifiably the favourites for promotion especially after Oxford’s biggest defeat of the season was when they lost away to Bolton 5-0 in March. The underdogs had already upset the odds by defeating Peterborough and despite having less possession in the first half it was the U’s who took control and played more dangerous attacking football.

The first half saw a brace from Josh Murphy and despite Ian Evatt’s team having had such a strong season they were unable to find it within themselves to pull out a performance on the big stage.

The after 9 minutes of added time the Wanderers were unable to find their feet within the game and the final finished 2-0 to Oxford. Bolton Wanderers boss Evatt said he can only put their League One play-off final defeat by Oxford United down to “pressure and fear”.

Des Buckingham said in his interview with Sky Sports, “I can’t sum up how I’m feeling. We didn’t dream until the full-time whistle because we know how good Bolton are.”

“To see what I’ve just seen, I haven’t got the words for it. With the football we’ve just played there, I thought we were excellent today. I’m so proud to lead this team and I’m so proud of the players and what they’ve just shown Oxford United to be.”

Photo credit: Oxford United

Sky Sports spoke to Oxford’s goal scorer Josh Murphy, who added, “I don’t think anyone expected this. I’m lost for words.”

“We were the underdogs coming into today, but we played amazingly and we’re in the Championship now. This group is special. We knew after losing 5-0 to Bolton it was either sink or swim and everyone swam today. We’ve got such good togetherness here and everyone’s just dug in. We had our backs against the wall against Peterborough and today we played out of our skin, so I’m buzzing.”

This means that the three teams promoted to the Championship for the 24/25 season are Portsmouth, Derby County and Oxford. This for us, and I am sure many others, screams out a common denominator in the dearly departed Jim Smith. A manager who will always be held in our hearts we very much hope is looking down on the three promoted teams with fond memories and a smile!

We wish all the best next season to the three of Jim’s teams who we will be following fondly.

Photo credit: Matt Gooderick, Head of Broadcast at Good Broadcast

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