MX23RW : Tuesday, May 21 16:05:43| >> :120:7063:7063:
[monks data]
Bolton logo
League One
May 18, 2024 at 4.15pm UK
Wembley Stadium
Oxford United

0 - 2
Oxford Utd

Jones (47'), Dempsey (68'), Baxter (72'), Thomason (77')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Murphy (31', 42')
Goodrham (90+8')

Greatest League One playoff finals ever

Ahead of Saturday's Wembley showdown between Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United, Sports Mole takes a look at the greatest League One playoff finals.

The culmination of the 2023-24 League One campaign takes place under the famous arch of Wembley Stadium when Bolton Wanderers lock horns with Oxford United in the playoff final on Saturday afternoon.

Bolton, who finished third in the League One table, are potentially just 90 minutes away from returning to the Championship after five years away after they secured a 5-4 aggregate victory over Barnsley in the semi-finals, despite losing the second leg 3-2 on home soil.

Meanwhile, Oxford are bidding to return to the second tier for the first time since 1998-99 after following up a fifth-placed finish in the regular season with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win over Peterborough United.

The EFL playoffs have delivered some of the most dramatic matches filled with enthralling drama, last-minute winners, penalty shootouts and stunning strikes over the years.

With that in mind, Sports Mole takes a look at the top three greatest ever League One playoff finals.

3. Millwall 2-3 Scunthorpe United - 2009 League One playoff final

Fifteen years ago, Scunthorpe came out on top in a five-goal thriller against Millwall to secure promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt under the tutelage of manager Nigel Adkins.

After squeezing into the playoffs with a sixth-placed finish in League One, the Iron edged past MK Dons via a penalty shootout to progress to their second Wembley final of the season, just over a month after losing the EFL trophy final to Luton Town.

Millwall, meanwhile, beat Leeds United over two legs in the semi-finals and then found themselves 2-1 ahead in the playoff final heading into half time, with a quickfire brace from Gary Alexander - including a spectacular 35-yard volley - turning the game on its head after Scunthorpe legend Matt Sparrow had scored a sixth-minute opener.

However, Scunthorpe picked themselves off the canvas and valiantly fought their way back into the contest, with Sparrow slotting home a composed finish to restore parity in the 70th minute before Martyn Woolford scored a dramatic winner five minutes from time with a low-driven shot into the bottom corner, not long after Alexander missed a glorious chance at the other end from just six yards out to complete his hat-trick.

Both teams have since experienced mixed fortunes in league football, with Millwall having just completed their seventh successive season in the Championship, while Scunthorpe are now competing in the National League North (the sixth tier of English football).

2. Rotherham United 2-2 Leyton Orient (Rotherham win 4-3 on penalties) - 2014 League One playoff final

Rotherham were the comeback kings of the 2013-14 campaign as they came from behind in both the playoff semi-finals and final to secure back-to-back promotions and return to the Championship.

After overturning a one-goal deficit to beat Preston North End on aggregate in the semi-finals, the Millers were trailing by two goals at half time against Orient in the final, courtesy of a brilliant 25-yard opener from Moses Odubajo and a simple tap-in from Dean Cox.

However, Steve Evans's half-time team talk did the trick, as his Rotherham side were back on level terms by the hour mark thanks to a quickfire brace from Alex Revell, who stabbed home his first from close range before equalising just five minutes later with a looping 30-yard half-volley over Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones.

Neither side could be separated after 120 minutes of engrossing playoff action, but the momentum soon swung back in the favour of Orient during the penalty shootout as they held a 3-2 advantage thanks to Jones saving Lee Frecklington's spot kick.

However, Rotherham prevailed as James Tavernier - now strutting his stuff as Rangers captain - and Richard Smallwood both converted from 12 yards before Adam Collin made two crucial stops to keep out Mathieu Baudry and Chris Dagnall, securing a 4-3 shootout triumph and sending the Millers into the second tier in dramatic fashion.

1. Gillingham 2-2 Manchester City (Man City win 3-1 on penalties) - 1999 Division Two playoff final

Manchester City's memorable playoff triumph over Gillingham is regarded by many as the match that saved the club and one that ultimately paved the way for further success in years to come.

The Citizens hit their lowest ebb when they slumped to 12th place in the third tier at Christmas following an embarrassing defeat at York City, but Joe Royle's side eventually climbed up to third to secure a playoff spot - and the rest is history.

All four goals of the showpiece event were scored in the final ten minutes, with Man City staring down the barrel of defeat heading into stoppage time after Carl Asaba and Robert Taylor scored two late goals for Tony Pulis's Gillingham. However, Royle's men would not go down without a fight and they mounted the most dramatic of comebacks.

Kevin Horlock pulled one back for City with a 90th-minute strike, before Paul Dickov etched his name in the club's folklore when he smashed a 95th-minute equaliser into the top corner to spark bedlam in the Citizens section at Wembley.

Following a goalless 30 minutes of extra time, Man City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver became the hero with two crucial penalty saves, as Horlock, Terry Cooke and Richard Edghill all converted from 12 yards to give the Citizens a 3-1 shootout triumph and secure promotion back to the second tier.

Honourable mentions:

Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Barnsley (AET) - 2023
Charlton Athletic 2-1 Sunderland - 2019
Barnsley 2-2 Swansea City (Barnsley won 4-3 on penalties) - 2006
Hartlepool United 2-4 Sheffield Wednesday - 2005
Walsall 3-2 Reading (AET) - 2001

ID:543667:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect10373:No Data Analysis info
Game History

How you voted: Bolton vs Oxford Utd

Bolton Wanderers
Oxford United
Collect / Create New Data
Share this article now:
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson reacts on April 7, 2024
Read Next:
Saturday's League One predictions including Peterborough United vs. Bolton Wanderers
Sports Mole Logo
Enter your email address to subscribe to Sports Mole's free daily transfer newsletter! Sent twice a day during the transfer window.
rhs 2.0
Today's games header
Tables header RHS
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916

Sports Mole provides in-depth previews and predictions for every match from the biggest leagues and competitions in world football.
Argentina's Lionel Messi kisses the World Cup trophy after collecting the Golden Ball award on December 18, 2022Sign up for our FREE daily preview newsletter direct to your inbox!