Oxford to take on Wycombe in the League One play-off final at Wembley

PIC: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The U's secured their trip with a nail-biting 5-4 semi-final penalty shootout victory over Portsmouth.

A place in next season's Sky Bet Championship is at stake tonight.

Oxford's eventful recent past has seen the club play in each of England's top four divisions and even endure a four-year spell outside the English Football League.

The U's haven't plied their trade in the second tier since they were relegated from the old Division One at the end of the 1998-99 season.

Wycombe, who were only admitted to the Football League in 1993, have never progressed past League One and victory at Wembley would represent a high-point in the club's 133-year existence.

The Chairboys saw off Fleetwood 6-3 over two legs in the semi-finals last week.

As a manager, U's boss Karl Robinson has a knack for getting the best out of his teams when the spotlight is on them.

His MK Dons side beat Premier League Norwich 4-0 in the Carling Cup in August 2011 and famously Manchester United by the same score in the same competition three seasons later.

Oxford also proved too good for top-flight opposition once again earlier this season when they dumped West Ham out of the EFL Cup with another 4-0 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Oxford rejected the chance for a Wembley visit ahead of tonight's play-off final.

Robinson has revealed he asked his players if they wanted a pre-match tour to get their bearings - and they said no.

He also insisted that any match at the national stadium will be special, even behind closed doors.

"It's something they preferred not to do," said Robinson, of a possible pre-match Wembley visit.

"I don't know whether Wycombe are going. If they do they may think we're being arrogant by not going, but that's certainly not the case.

"I just know that we feel when we turn up on Monday we'll be ready and that's the most important thing.

"Wembley's always special and a place that creates memories, but the best time to use your phone is after the match.

"And if you don't get that chance to celebrate, and take pictures, then you don't deserve that chance.

"There's no right way, there's no wrong way; this was just the choice of my players."

Asked if Wembley can retain its magic without the fans, Robinson continued: "It's Wembley, I've cried there, as a fan I've enjoyed winning there.

"I've been there and won as a coach, and I've had many, many memories going there for different reasons. And it's always special.

"I'm there three or four times a year probably for FA hearings, and it's empty then.

"But even when you do park your car before an FA hearing, it's still wonderful going to Wembley. There's a buzz about the place.

"It's what we are all about as a nation.

"It is the home of football. If you ever get bored with going to Wembley, even if there's nobody there, then you don't like football.

"Of course it's a much better place full of people, supporting and cheering, but we're really looking forward to this."

As the coronavirus fallout continues to hit football, Robinson admits Oxford's only chance of retaining all of their current top talents is to win tonight and secure promotion.

"I'm immensely proud of all my players and they know what they mean to me," said Robinson.

"They know that I'll always be there for them now, for the rest of their careers, I'll always be at the end of a phone.

"It's a relationship I have with all my players. There's players at the top level who still phone me and ask things.

"And it's purely because when players wear a shirt for a football club or play for me, and they show me the respect by the way they conduct themselves with each other, I'll always be there for them throughout the course of their careers.

"This is a group of people I want to keep together for a long time.

"In my whole managerial career I've never spent money. I've never spent any more than about £200,000 on a player in 10 years.

"We've always sold players. I've never had a budget where I can build a team; I keep a team.

"And the only way we can keep this team, I hope, is by finding ourselves at the next level, where a lot of my players keep telling me every single week that's where they deserve to be.

"So if you deserve to be there, get there wearing yellow."

Oxford United have had the all clear for Wembley after the final round of Covid-19 tests all came back negative over the weekend.

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