The 2020/21 Sky Bet League One play-offs commence this evening as Oxford United play host to Blackpool at the Kassam Stadium.
Both teams enter the play-offs in tremendous form with Oxford winning five out of their last six games, whilst Blackpool head to Oxfordshire off the back of four consecutive league victories.
The U’s snuck into the play-off picture on the final day of the League One campaign at the expense of Portsmouth, after Karl Robinson’s side notched an impressive 4-0 win over Burton Albion.
As for Neil Critchley’s Blackpool, they’ve been in and around the play-off mix all season and finished the season strongly as they secured third spot with a final day victory over Bristol Rovers at Bloomfield Road.
For Oxford, this will be their second consecutive play-off campaign in League One after they narrowly lost to Wycombe Wanderers in last season’s play-off final at Wembley, so for Robinson and his side, it’ll be all about banishing their demons from last year and going one better.
The Kassam Stadium will open it’s doors to home supporters this evening meaning it’s the first game in 2021 that the U’s fans will have witnessed their side in action, and they’ll be hoping to pick up a win ahead of the second leg on Friday.
Team and injury news
Oxford welcome back Brandon Barker for this evening’s clash against the Tangerines, after he wasn’t utilised by Robinson against Burton last time out.
The man on loan from Rangers is now fully fit and will compete with Elliot Lee and Mide Shodipo for a starting berth in Robinson’s side.
The U’s do have to contend with the absence of player of the season Sam Long this evening though.
The defender limped off with a hamstring issue last time out against Burton, thus meaning Jamie Hanson or Anthony Forde are likely to stand in at right-back.
John Mousinho and Marcus McGuane continue to recover from their injuries and will be unavailable for selection.
As for Blackpool, Gary Madine made a long-awaited return for the Tangerines last weekend against Bristol Rovers and could be involved for Critchley’s side.
Daniel Gretarsson will sit out the entire play-off campaign for Blackpool with a shoulder problem.
Where to watch the game
Tonight’s fixture is being broadcasted on Sky Sports Football with kick-off scheduled for 6pm.
This has all the makings of a really intriguing clash at the Kassam Stadium this evening.
Blackpool’s defensive record is the best in League One and the likes of Matty Taylor, Shodipo and Barker will have a stern task trying to penetrate the Tangerines’ formidable backline.
The Tangerines, much like the U’s, possess some quality attacking options with the likes of Ellis Simms and Jerry Yates able to hurt opposition defences.
In truth, a competitive draw is the most likely outcome here but it truly could go either way.
Score prediction: Oxford 1-1 Blackpool