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      Bolton, Oxford, Crawley & Crewe chasing promotion

      L1 & L2 playoff final previews

      2024/05/16 19:57

      The Championship playoff semi-final first-legs began with two goalless draws on Sunday and those second-legs begin tonight with the final taking place next week as Leeds United, Norwich City, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion battle it out to return to England’s top-flight.

      Slightly further down the pyramid, though, we are at the pointy end of this season’s playoffs with the finals in both League One and League Two taking place at Wembley Stadium this weekend.

      After a dramatic couple of weeks, four teams head to the so-called ‘home of football’ on Saturday and Sunday to determine the end of their respective 2023/24 campaigns.

      So, without further ado, this is a rundown, preview, summary and prediction of the two finals between Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United in League One as well as Crawley Town and Crewe Alexandra in League Two…


      Bolton Wanderers vs Oxford United | 16:45 on Saturday

      Finished: 3rd vs 5th 

      Meetings this season: OXF 0-0 BOL & BOL 5-0 OXF

      Previous Wembley trips: 15th trip vs 6th trip

      Previous playoff promotions: 2 out of 7 vs 1 out of 4

      @Getty /

      Bolton Wanderers were on the verge of extinction five years ago but the appointment of Ian Evatt for their first season in League Two in over 40 years saw them immediately promoted before continued progression with a ninth placed finish, fifth placed finish and then a third placed finish. They came through a tense and nervy playoff semi-final second-leg against Barnsley to eventually win the tie by five goals to four on aggregate.

      Oxford United are aiming to return to the second-tier of English football for the first time this century. In that time they have been as low as the National League but the 2020 League One playoff finalists are aiming to completely bounce back. The U’s began the season well before the departure of Liam Manning and then overcame some serious teething issues at the start of Des Buckingham’s reign. They edged past Peterborough United 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. 

      Bolton and their supporters will believe that the club is ‘on its way back’ but there is a fragility throughout the team that has been shown up in big moments and big matches so far this season, as was the case last year. Oxford, with a flat back four, will soak up pressure and seek to hit on the counter, where Bolton have been the joint weakest in terms of goals conceded in League One this season. That sets itself up for a famous day for United. 

      Playmaker prediction: Oxford United to win


      Crawley Town vs Crewe Alexandra | 13:00 on Sunday

      Finished: 7th vs 5th 

      Meetings this season: CRE 1-0 CRA & CRA 2-4 CRE

      Previous Wembley trips: 1st trip vs 4th trip

      Previous playoff promotions: 0 out of 0 vs 2 out of 6

      @Harriet Lander/Getty Images

      Crawley Town have been the subject of controversy and almost mocking for a few years with WAGMI United as their ownership group and the Red Devils began this season as favourites for relegation to non-league. However, an excellent campaign playing an attacking style of football under the management of Scott Lindsey saw them eventually hammer Milton Keynes Dons by eight goals to one on aggregate in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

      Crewe Alexandra are arguably the archetypal League One and League Two yo-yo club with the Railwaymen looking to bounce back into the third-tier after relegation in 2022. Crewe Alex were in automatic promotion contention for much of the campaign before finishing the season really badly and then losing their playoff semi-final first-leg 2-0 at home to Doncaster Rovers. Lee Bell’s men, though, went to Yorkshire and turned the game on its head to win on penalties. 

      Crewe Alexandra, as mentioned, went into the playoffs on the back of just one win in their final nine matches and just two wins in 12. However, they will be hoping to benefit from so-called ‘momentum’ on the back of their defeat of Doncaster. Crawley, though, are arguably the story of the season in the EFL and their front foot, aggressive style of football may overwhelm a team that has done the double over them in the regular season. 

      Playmaker prediction: Crawley Town to win


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      2024-05-16 22h10m by gkingsley
      As a football fan, I'm buzzing for the Championship playoff second-legs tonight! Hoping to see some thrilling action and a clear winner emerge. And let's not forget about the League One and League Two finals at Wembley this weekend - it's always an intense battle for promotion. Can't wait to see who will come out on top!
      2024-05-16 21h57m by eedwards
      As a football fan, I'm disappointed with the goalless draws in the Championship playoff semi-finals. Hoping for more excitement in the second-legs and a thrilling final next week! Also looking forward to the playoffs in League One and Two this weekend at Wembley Stadium
      2024-05-16 21h25m by sjacksons_9_2_1
      As a football fan, I am feeling optimistic about the upcoming playoffs. The first-legs may have ended in goalless draws, but that only sets the stage for even more thrilling matches tonight. I can't wait to see which teams will come out on top and secure their spot in the final. And with the finals for League One and League Two also taking place this weekend, it's going to be a jam-packed and exciting couple of days for football fans. Bring on the playoffs!
      2024-05-16 21h16m by eyoungs8
      As a football fan, I have to say, I'm quite excited for the upcoming Championship playoff second-legs and the finals in League One and League Two this weekend. It's been a tense season and I can't wait to see who will come out on top and secure their spot in the top-flight. Good luck to Leeds United, Norwich City, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion! And let's not forget about the teams battling it out at Wembley, it's going to
      2024-05-16 20h39m by l_10_brownfield
      As a football fan, I can't contain my excitement for the Championship playoff semi-final second-legs starting tonight! Hoping to see some thrilling matches and ultimately a deserving return to the Premier League.


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