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Preview: Oxford United vs. Wycombe Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's League One playoff final between Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers, including team news and predicted lineups.

Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers will battle it out in the League One playoff final on Monday evening for the right to play in the Championship for the 2020-21 campaign.

Oxford reached the final after edging past Portsmouth on penalties following a 2-2 aggregate scoreline, whereas Wycombe cruised to Wembley after a 6-3 aggregate victory over Fleetwood Town.

Match preview

Oxford United players celebrate winning the penalty shootout against Portsmouth in the League One playoff semi-finals on July 6, 2020© Reuters

Given the fact that Oxford and Wycombe were scheduled to face each other in the regular season just before the lockdown came into effect, it only seems appropriate that the two clubs now get to meet on the biggest stage of them all.

Oxford and Portsmouth could not be separated after 120 gruelling minutes of football in the second leg of their semi-final playoff, with U's goalkeeper Simon Eastwood the hero of the hour after his save from Cameron McGeehan set Oxford on their way to a 5-4 shootout victory and paved the way for a route to Wembley.

Karl Robinson admitted post-match that the lack of supporters had an effect on his players amid the coronavirus crisis, and it remains to be seen how an empty Wembley Stadium will influence both sides as the players prepare for one of the most important games of their careers.

Oxford will now be aiming to reach the second tier for the first time since the 1998-99 season, and the recent form of Robinson's men is certainly a cause for optimism as the U's have now tasted victory in six of their last seven matches.

Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth celebrates on July 6, 2020© Reuters

Having played one game fewer than their playoff final opponents when the season was curtailed, Wycombe overtook Oxford in the table on a points-per-game basis to finish third in the regular season.

The revised league standings hold little significance now, though, and Wycombe will endeavour to build on their comfortable semi-final victory over Fleetwood when they step out onto the Wembley turf for the fifth time in their history.

Boasting a 4-1 lead from the first leg, the Chairboys did not have such a plain-sailing second encounter with Joey Barton's Fleetwood, but a 2-2 draw was enough for Wycombe to book their place in Monday's final.

Fred Onyedinma bagged a double for Gareth Ainsworth's side on the night, and Wycombe will now endeavour to achieve promotion to the Championship for the first time in the club's history.

By his own admission, Ainsworth claims that Wycombe are the underdogs heading into Monday's final, although that should be an added incentive for the Chairboys to play without fear and relish their moment at the home of English football - albeit behind closed doors.

However, Oxford enjoyed a 1-0 victory over Wycombe when the sides locked horns earlier in the campaign, and the U's have also won four out of the last five meetings with their Wembley opponents.

Oxford United League One form: WWWWDW

Wycombe Wanderers League One form: LWWLWD

Team News

Oxford United's Matty Taylor celebrates scoring their second goal against West Ham with teammates and fans on September 25, 2019© Reuters

Robinson has confirmed that Oxford have no fresh injury or other medical concerns heading into the final.

Top scorer Matty Taylor started on the bench in the second leg against Portsmouth but is expected to come back into the starting lineup for Monday.

With regards to Wycombe, Ainsworth has confirmed he has a fully-fit squad to pick from for the trip to the capital.

The Wycombe boss may look to stick with the majority of the same side that got the job done convincingly against Fleetwood, but both managers will know that stepping out onto the Wembley turf is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of their players.

Adebayo Akinfenwa was unlucky not to put the game to bed against Fleetwood after seeing his close-range effort saved, but the striker has since become embroiled in off-the-field issues following allegations of racism directed towards him during the semi final.

Oxford United possible starting lineup:
Eastwood; Long, Dickie, Moore, Ruffels; Sykes, Rodriguez, Brannagan; Henry, Taylor, Browne

Wycombe Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Allsop; Grimmer, Stewart, Charles, Jacobson; Gape, Bloomfield, Ofoborh; Wheeler, Samuel, Onyedinma

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We say: Oxford United 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers

Both teams should be going into this final devoid of any fear or uncertainty. Oxford and Wycombe have displayed their capabilities throughout the season and a spot in the Championship would mean so much to everyone associated with the two clubs.

That being said, Oxford boast a strong recent record against Wycombe and the U's have plenty to offer going forward, so we are backing Robinson's men to get the job done and join Coventry City and Rotherham United in the second tier next season.

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Oxford United manager Karl Robinson pictured in October 2019
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