• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Sam Long on 5-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers and League One play-off final


May 15, 2024

SAM Long says that Oxford United’s 5-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers two months ago will have no bearing when the teams meet in the Sky Bet League One play-off final this weekend.

The U’s were on the wrong end of a mauling on March 12, as goals from Nathanael Ogbeta, Josh Dacres-Cogley, George Thomason, Aaron Collins and Josh Sheehan made it a night to forget in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The result though proved to be a turning point for United, who enjoyed a run of five wins and two draws from their final eight games of the regular campaign, with the only loss coming in the 1-0 defeat at home to Lincoln City.

The U’s and the Trotters come face-to-face again on Saturday afternoon, with promotion to the Championship the prize for the victor.

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Asked about the relevance of the previous league clash, Long responded: “It’s a one-off occasion, a one-off shoot-out at Wembley to see who gets promoted.

“They’ll have their own game plan coming into it, and it’s the same here. We’ll work hard this week and iron out a few things we need to, but it’s a completely different team to what played them a couple of months ago. You can see that with the performances we’ve put in, in recent weeks.

“It’s a one-off game, anything can happen, and hopefully we come out on top.”

Long, who came on at half-time for Fin Stevens at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, acknowledged that the result was an ‘embarrassing night’ for United, but the team have been able to turn into something positive.

He said: “A lot of people probably wrote us off after we played them, especially with it being on TV. It was an embarrassing night for us, and I think a lot of us looked at ourselves in the mirror.

“We knew we had to be better, and credit to everyone in the building, staff and players included.

“We stuck together and got ourselves into a position where we’re potentially 90 minutes away from the Championship.

“That’s full credit to everybody. It was a turning point in our season, and we used that embarrassing night to turn it into a big positive to go on and do what we’ve done.”

Long added: “We’ve worked really hard to get here. It’s not the easiest way to get promoted, but from friends in the game that have been promoted through the play-offs, they say it’s the best way.

“Hopefully we can do it, and make sure our hard work isn’t wasted.”