Football expert Tom Love has two selections for the League One play-off Final.
Oxford vs Wycombe - League One Play-Off Final
The League One play-off final promises to be an enthralling encounter between two sides who have adopted a different style of play to each other. Wycombe were one of the favourites to be relegated ante-post, yet they were in the automatic promotion positions at the halfway stage of the season. Their drop off since then wasn’t too much of a surprise given the lack of squad depth Gareth Ainsworth had to deal with, but they had enough of an advantage to just about keep their play-off place.
With arguably one of the lowest budgets in the league, ‘Wild Thing’ as he’s known, has done sterling work with the Chairboys. He knows the club inside out and looks to have a great way with people, his emotional management has matched his tactical acumen and it would not be a surprise to see Championship clubs eyeing him up for future gigs. It’s fair to say his side aren’t the prettiest from an aesthetic standpoint, but they’re mighty effective, especially from set-pieces with the superb delivery of Joe Jacobson and a couple of big lads to cause an aerial threat, most notably Bayo Akinfenwa.
Oxford, on the other hand, were probably expecting to be in and around the play off mix come the end of the season. Karl Robinson has always been a manager who likes to get the ball down and play, even from his MK Dons days, so it will be an intriguing clash of styles at Wembley. The U’s average the highest possession in the league whereas Wycombe actually average the least possession in the league, so expect the Yellows to have the lions share of the ball. They have some really talented players who I think could easily make the step up to Championship football. Rob Dickie, Cameron Brannagan and Marcus Browne have all stood out this season whist James Henry and John Mousinho bring integral experience to the squad.
Oxford are rated as favourites to lift the trophy at best price 4/7 whereas Wycombe are best price 6/4 to be playing Championship football next season. I’d say those prices are doing a little disservice to Wycombe, they’ve been unfancied all season and Ainsworth will try use that as a tool to boost his players no doubt.
I expect this to be a closely fought battle and I think if one team scores then the other team has a great chance of doing something different, adapting their style slightly to get back into the game. With this in mind I’ll take the 19/20 quotes on both teams scoring. BTTS landed in all four play off semi-finals, showing how closely matched they all were. BTTS has also landed in the last 4 games of both sides respectively so I’m surprised it’s almost an even-money chance here.
Play-off finals are always nervy affairs with sides’ inclination to be more risk averse much more prominent. I wouldn’t be surprised therefore if this went all the way to spot kicks. Oxford’s game with Portsmouth went to penalties after two legs, it could well be a case of do not lose with so much on the line. You can get 11/2 on either team to win on penalties and that is worth a small play for some added interest.