Blackpool vs Oxford | Friday 21st May 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
I wrote in my League One play–off preview that Blackpool were my fancy and I thought that Oxford's record against the other top-six sides wasn’t good enough to warrant promotion, and at the halfway point of the semi-final that looks to be spot on.
Blackpool were far superior in every department in the first leg. They won the xG 1.88 vs 0.72 although lost the shot count 11 to 9 they still managed to hit the target on five occasions to Oxford's one, whilst racking up eight shots in the box against the U’s seven.
There is no doubt about it, Oxford will have their work cut out if they have any chance of progressing. Not only do they need to overturn a three-goal deficit, but they also need to do what no sides have ever done before in the play offs – come from behind by three goals to progress to the final.
Whilst scoring three goals is hard work against any side, Blackpool have the divisions strongest defence with 22 clean sheets, third best xGA and only one side conceded fewer shots on target at home, on top of this they have suffered just two defeats from their last 23 matches. In addition, Oxford have managed just one win from their last eight trips to Bloomfield Road. It doesn’t look good for them.
Oxford must go there and believe they can do it. Whilst I am not sure they will win; I do believe they will have chances. Only one side has scored more away goals than the Us, they sit fourth for away xG and only Peterborough managed more shots on target in away games than Oxford.
My concern for this game is that an early Blackpool goal kills the game as I doubt Oxford could score five without Blackpool scoring further goals. Whilst the game is no further away from them, I believe Oxford will go for it and therefore I am happy to get with corners and Blackpool goal kicks.
Oxford hit the second-highest shots by an away team this term with an average of 13.83 which resulted in their hosts having an average of 8.2 goals kicks. On the road, Oxford saw their hosts have six or more goal kicks on 16 of 20 games, with no side seeing fewer than three. Blackpool at home have taken an average of 7.3 goal kicks. They have taken five or more in 15 of 20 home games. They took eight in the first leg.
However, Over 5.5 Goal Kicks is only 2/7 so I am going to double this with Oxford Over 4 Corners to get us to an even-money hit.
Oxford hit six in the first leg and they are chasing the game here from the off. They have averaged 4.95 corners on the road, hitting this line in eight of their last 12 games on the road, with one of the games they didn’t was against Crewe and they won 6-0. The hosts average 4.45 corners conceded at home and have seen Doncaster, Bristol Rovers, Accrington, Plymouth and Sunderland all recently came to Bloomfield Road and hit five or more.
I think the stats and the game make this my favourite bet of the game.
I think Blackpool will score. Oxford will at some point need to push forward and as we saw in the first leg, when they did, they left themselves open for the counterattack. The hosts only failed to score four times at home this season and one of those occasions was when they were struggling at the start of the season. They have now scored in 19 of their last 23 games.
Oxford had chances and need to find a little more composure in front of goal. Despite the 3-0 scoreline I expect Blackpool to play exactly the same way. Over the season they have committed an average of 13 fouls per home game and over the last eight home games they have committed 13 or more in all, as well as 17 in the 1st leg.
Oxford have seen their hosts commit an average of 13.5 this season with five of the last six opponents hit 12 or more. Only MK Dons, Shrewsbury and Rochdale failed to commit 10 or fewer fouls when entertaining Oxford.
Keith Stroud gets the whistle and across English football this season he averages 3.1 cards per game. He has given two or more cards in 17 of these 20 games this season and I can see that happening again.
Blackpool collected three in the first leg and Oxford will be up for the game and should be fired up and looking to make an impression and frustration could play a part. It’s also worth noting that 19 of 20 teams that Oxford faced on the road this season collected at least one card.
I am going to roll these together for a large Bet Builder, so we have Over 1 Card in the match, Over 0 Blackpool Goals, Over 1 Goal and Over 11.5 Oxford Free-Kicks at 20/21.