Oxford United Win Promotion To Championship Thanks To Murphy Double | Oxfordshire Guardian

It was party time at Wembley for Oxford United as they beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 thanks to a brilliant Josh Murphy double, to delight Des Buckingham and the incredible U’s fans. The play-off final wins means a return to the Championship for the first time in 25 years.

In the 1998/99 season, Oxford finished 23rd and were relegated from what was then known as Division 1 (the Championship and rebrand came later in 2004). So in theory, the Yellows play in the Championship for the first time.

Oxford United dominated the match, and fully deserved their win. And Murphy deserved his brace, both assisted by Ruben Rodrigues. Prior to the match, the left winger had scored 8 goals this season, and the first did have a touch of luck in the 31st minute. His curling shot clipped the head of the opposition skipper Ricardo Santos and diverted past Nathan Baxter in the Bolton goal.

The second in the 42nd minute was beautiful, Rodrigues hit a stunning through pass for the pacey winger, and at first glance his touch looked heavy, but it took him past Baxter to finish expertly from a narrow angle to send the 30’000 travelling fans wild.

Taking a 2-0 lead into half time was more than anyone could have dreamed of, especially manager Des Buckingham who was here at Wembley as a baby in 1986, and again as a fan in 2010 with the Conference play-off final seeing a return back to league football.

With Elliot Moore standing firm in defence, the second half saw opportunities for Murphy to bag his hat-trick and dragged one just wide of the post in the 58th minute.  On the 65th minute, Baxter denied him again.

Semi final hero and talisman Cameron Brannigan limped off in the 64th minute, but the U’s held firm and resolute, with Harris also standing out with his tireless performance. Sam Long, who played for Buckingham at U9 level was also standout at centre back.

Back in March, when Bolton thumped Oxford 5-0 this seemed like an impossible dream. Plenty of fans will happily eat humble pie after doubting Des Buckingham, but after that match, winning 5 from 8 games sealed the play-off place.

In the semi-finals, Peterborough United were beaten 1-0, before the 1-1 draw to get to the final. And this final win will live long in the memory for all Yellows fans.

Congratulations to Des and his team. It’s time to celebrate!


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