Oxford United boss: Our 5-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers left a scar

The U’s will meet Bolton in the League One play-off final at Wembley on May 18, just 67 days after they were heavily beaten in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the Toughsheet Stadium.

Nat Ogbeta, Josh Dacres-Cogley, George Thomason, Aaron Collins and Josh Sheehan all got on the scoresheet for the Whites in a one-sided contest.

But Buckingham, whose side edged out Peterborough United 2-1 on aggregate to claim their place in the final on Wednesday night, says the result could serve as motivation when the two sides meet next weekend.

“Bolton was a big blip and it’s left us with a scar, so it’ll be nice to go back and play them,” he told The Oxford Mail.

“We’ve started to play some really good football. It came together post that moment, and I think people may see that as a reaction and something that was a reset.

“It wasn’t so much a reset that played its part, but there was a lot of time and work, and we started to see it at Port Vale when we won 2-0.

“We’ve just built on that, and the players have got a good understanding of what we do and how we do it, and we’re getting better game by game.”

Oxford-born Buckingham took over from Liam Manning in November with the side in second place in League One.

Form has stuttered on occasion through spells of heavy injury and when loan players like goalkeeper James Beadle were recalled by their parent club.

But the club fell no lower than eighth before securing their play-off spot on the final day of the campaign and climbing to fifth with a win against Exeter City.

Had Louis Appere not scored for Northampton Town in the 95th minute of their game against Barnsley, Bolton would have been paired with Oxford in the semi-final.

Instead, Buckingham saw his side edge 1-0 up against Peterborough at a packed Kassam Stadium, then see the tie out with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at London Road.

“It’ll be without doubt the proudest moment of my career, to lead my hometown club into Wembley in my first season here,” he said.

“We’ve had some tough moments, but we’ve stuck together, and people have stuck together so strongly.

“It’s certainly the proudest moment I’ve had in my career and my life. I can’t wait to lead this team out at Wembley, to try and go one step further.

“What a wonderful experience it will be. We know we’ll fill our allocation, no doubt.

“I can’t wait to walk out at Wembley and see that one side full of yellow shirts. If we can replicate the atmosphere that we had with 11,000 at the Kassam, with 36,000 people at Wembley, that will be an unbelievable experience.”

Buckingham also believes the defensive resolve shown to shut Peterborough out under pressure in the second half of Wednesday night’s game will come in handy against Bolton.

“Although we didn’t have much of the ball, in terms of playing the way we want, what was really pleasing was the other side of the game, which people don’t often talk about with the defensive side, which is going to be so important next week.”

Latest news
Related news