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May 18, 2021 at 6pm UK
Oxford UtdOxford United
FT(HT: 0-2)
Turton (23'), Simms (26', 74')
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Preview: Oxford United vs. Blackpool - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Oxford United vs. Blackpool - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's League One clash between Oxford United and Blackpool, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Oxford United and Blackpool square off in the first leg of their League One playoff semi-final after ending the regular campaign as the two form teams in the division.

While the home side recorded three successive wins to sneak into the top six, the visitors posted four victories in a row to claim third position.

Match preview

Having started the season with seven defeats in 10 matches, Oxford's hopes of promotion appeared to be over by the middle of November.

However, nine wins from 10 fixtures during the turn of the year catapulted Karl Robinson's side back into contention, and a strong end to the season resulted in Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic being edged out for sixth spot.

The achievement of Robinson and his squad will not generate many headlines, but they deserve plenty of credit for the turnaround of the past six months.

Despite 56 goals being conceded at the back, a return of 77 strikes at the other end of the pitch was the third-best in the division.

Matty Taylor emerged as the key player in the team, the club's leading marksman ending the campaign with 18 goals after netting three times in as many matches to get Oxford over the line.

Like their hosts, Blackpool endured a difficult start to the season with just seven points being collected from nine encounters.

However, the club's owners have been rewarded for sticking with Neil Critchley, whose side registered just two defeats during the final 22 matches of the campaign.

Although the Tangerines finished in third place, there is no frustration after missing out on automatic promotion with the North-West outfit relying of four successive wins to guarantee their spot in the top six.

Four clean sheets have been kept in succession, ensuring that Blackpool ended the regular season with the best defensive record in the third tier.

While Blackpool have been heavily reliant on the attacking contribution of Jerry Yates, their unity at the back could prove to be the difference when it comes to a return to the Championship.

Oxford United League One form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Blackpool League One form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Having made a number of changes for the final-day fixture against Bristol Rovers, Critchley will revert back to his strongest XI.

Ellis Simms, who scored the decisive goal in that game as a substitute, should be recalled along with Yates, Oliver Turton, Luke Garbutt, Danny Ballard and Chris Maxwell.

Barring any late fitness issues, Robinson is unlikely to make any changes to his Oxford starting lineup after the 4-0 win over Burton Albion.

With the game over as a contest after the hour mark, Robinson was able to rest his key players in preparation for this fixture.

Despite contributing three goals and an assist during his last six substitute outings, Sam Winnall is expected to remain among the replacements.

Oxford United possible starting lineup:
Stevens; Long, Moore, Atkinson, Ruffels; Henry, Brannagan, Sykes; Lee, Taylor, Shodipo

Blackpool possible starting lineup:
Maxwell; Lawrence-Gabriel, Ballard, Thorniley, Husband, Garbutt; Turton, Dougall, Embleton; Yates, Simms

We say: Oxford United 1-1 Blackpool

Both teams will be confident of success on Tuesday evening, leading us to expect a lively encounter at the Kassam Stadium. All things considered, a competitive draw is the most likely outcome, but do not be surprised to see one of these sides nick a late winner.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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