Karl Robinson urges Oxford to make most of fans’ return for play-off clash

Charlton Athletic v Oxford United – Sky Bet League One – The Valley
(Image credit: Steven Paston)

Karl Robinson believes the current crop of players at Oxford will “deserve certain status in the club’s history” if they are able to seal promotion to the Sky Bet Championship later this month.

Oxford, beaten finalists in last season’s League One play-offs, secured a top-six finish for the second year in a row by thrashing Burton 4-0 on the final day of the regular campaign to set up a two-legged tie with Blackpool.

The U’s will throw open their gates at the Kassam Stadium to a select few supporters for Tuesday evening’s first leg against opponents who beat them at the same venue in March following goals from Kenny Dougall and Dan Ballard.

But Robinson is counting on the home fans making a difference as he challenged his players to write their names into the club’s record books as they look to get back into the second tier for the first time in 22 years.

Robinson said on the club’s official website: “The biggest excitement is that there will be fans back in the ground to watch us play. It’s all about the players and the fans, they’re the two biggest cogs within our football club.

“There are pictures all around the training ground and stadium of players celebrating with fans and they are a massive part of this football club, a real driver of this team’s success. And it is success.

“We have achieved way beyond what we expected in two years. It surpasses where I thought we’d be, so we’re under no pressure. If these players get promoted they deserve certain status in the club’s history.”

Oxford ended their campaign strongly by winning their final three matches and six of their last seven to guarantee sixth spot in the table and a chance to go one better than last season.

Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley is, therefore, wary ahead of the trip, saying on his club’s YouTube channel: “What we know and what Oxford will know is there’s two good teams.

“Karl’s obviously got a very good set of players at Oxford and they’ve got the experience of being in the play-offs from last season, unfortunately falling at the final hurdle at Wembley, but they’ll be looking to go one better.

“They’ve come into the play-offs in great form and they’ll be looking to carry that momentum on. They’re at home in the first leg, so they’ll probably see that as an opportunity to get off to a good start.”

Blackpool won their final four matches of the season to finish third and Critchley hopes their good form can continue.

He added: “We’re eager to get going, all the teams in the play-offs will be eager to play and get going. The wait and anticipation is nice, but excitement is there and you want to get the games under way now.

“These games are full of emotion, full of drama, the psychological aspect of these games are different than your normal league games but we’re ready, excited and looking forward to what should be a couple of fantastic games.”

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