Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Oxford United: Oxford defy the odds to earn promotion to the Championship

Oxford United defeated Bolton Wanderers at Wembley 2-0 this afternoon, with star man Josh Murphy at the double for the U‘s.

But it wasn’t until the 31st minute when Oxford took the lead through Josh Murphy’s first goal, the winger cutting in and beating Josh Dacres-Cogley on the corner of the box, before unleashing a strike which cannoned off of Whites skipper Ricardo Santos and into the Bolton top corner.

Murphy added to his tally in the 42nd minute of the game, he found himself in behind the Bolton back line, before rounding Nathan Baxter and sliding home his second of the game

Story of the Match

Oxford made one change from their 1-1 draw against Peterborough in their second leg. Sam Long coming into their starting 11 for Fin Stevens.

Ian Evatt also only made the one change to his side, Randell Williams being unfortunate in picking up an injury just a day before the biggest game of Bolton’s season. He was replaced by wing back Nathaniel Ogbeta.

The afternoons proceedings began well for Oxford, who bravely applied pressure to Bolton in the opening 10 minutes, stepping up to meet them in their own half. Cameron Brannagan leading the charge.

Bolton eventually got a foothold in the game, pushing back at Oxford with a couple of early half chances however nothing particularly troubling to Jamie Cumming in between the sticks.

However the first blow was dealt by U‘s winger Josh Murphy, afte his strike deflected off of Bolton skipper Santos, before gliding over Baxter and into the back of the Bolton goal.

Ian Evatt‘s side seemed to recover though, again doing well to keep possession of the ball after the restart. Again however, Cumming was left a mere spectator in the Oxford goal.

The Killer Blow

it was in the 42nd minute when Murphy added to Oxford fans jubilation, when he found himself on the end of a sublime pass by summer signing Ruben Rodrigues. Murphy met the magicians effort with a beautifully weighted first touch, which saw him round Baxter, before wheeling away to celebrate.

The early stages of the second half were set to be enthralling, with Evatt’s Wanderers having it all to do. Though the players seemed to come out for the second period as they exited the first, relatively toothless. 

A key turning point was the injury to Bolton starlet, Paris Maghoma who has been a revelation since signing for the Whites who struggled once the midfielder departed the pitch.

Murphy had more chances to add to grab himself his hat-trick throughout the second half, again Ruben Rodrigues pulling the strings in the midfield and spraying excellent passes through Bolton’s lines.

A late push from Bolton saw crosses come flying into the penalty area, with big defensive clearances coming from both Elliot Moore and Sam Long

However it wasn’t enough for Evatt’s side, who fall short again of making it to the EFL Championship.

Oxford however, will step up a division, boyhood fan Des Buckingham having his dream day at Wembley, and will see his side up to the second tier come next season.

Player of the Match

when looking for a player of the match from this afternoons game it is hard to look further than match winner Josh Murphy.

two goals which saw Oxford return to the second tier for the first time in the twenty-first century and possibly the two biggest goals he will score in his career. 

The winger was a constant threat to Bolton’s back line all game long, relentlessly running beyond the defence to cause issues and remain in the forefront of their mind when thinking about stepping up the pitch.

Murphy will no doubt go down in Oxford United history for his performance this afternoon, one to remember for all involved beneath Wembley’s arch.

Elliot Moore also deserves a special mention for his performance in such a pressure cooker, heading anything Bolton had to safety, before getting his hands on the League One play-off final trophy.

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