League One Play-Off Final Betting Preview: Corners and cards key at Wembley


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Monday night's massive League One play-off final leg between Oxford and Wycombe at Wembley.

Oxford v Wycombe | Monday 13th July 2020, 19:30 | Sky Sports

A hurried League One campaign will finally come to a conclusion on Monday night under the famous Wembley lights as Oxford and Wycombe battle it out for a place in next season’s Championship. Oxford needed the lottery on penalties to overcome Portsmouth after two very tight legs, whilst a first leg romp ensured Wycombe would get the better of Fleetwood in their semi.

The two outfits only got the chance to meet once during the regulation season before it was cut short by the virus, and it was Karl Robinson’s side would edge a 1-0 home win in December. Realistically that probably means nothing now, but Oxford are unbeaten in the last five head-to-head meetings, including five victories.

Gareth Ainsworth however will certainly have a plan for this game to try and complete the promotion masterplan, and scoring six goals in two play-off games should stand them in good stead. They were especially clinical versus Fleetwood thanks to scoring exactly half of their shots on target over the two legs. They only had just above 20% of the ball in the second leg as they looked to protect their lead, so it does highlight the importance of the first goal in this showpiece event.

That is made all the more important knowing that Wycombe have not lost a league match all season after opening the scoring. On the 17 occasions they has happened, they won 15 of those. Quite incredible.

Oxford aren’t too shabby when netting first either as they’ve won 15, drew three and lost just the once when doing so. Oxford had two close matches in their play-offs, whilst Wycombe saw many more clear-cut openings, so it remains to be seen who is the more prepared in that regard.

One avenue of success for Wycombe has been set pieces as only Rotherham scored more from such situations during the regular League One campaign. Oxford are one of the lowest scorers via this route, so that is one potential angle that the Chairboys could look to exploit.

Oxford however do lead the league in scoring goals from counter attacking situations, although losing Tariq Fosu to Brentford in January did see them lose arguably their best attacking player to take advantage. The way I see it, this is going to be a close match, and I don’t expect Wycombe to blast into a 3-1 half-time lead like they did at Fleetwood.

Corners appeal

One interesting betting opportunity is in the corner market, and considering Wycombe are so strong on set pieces it was a surprise to see that they only managed to gain more corner kicks than four teams in League One.

On the flip side, Oxford are second to only Rotherham in corners awarded and receive 6.66 on average per game. That number drops to 4.53 for Wycombe, and with Oxford likely to dominate more of the ball I can see this being a good opportunity for us to get involved.

Oxford Over 6.5 Corners is priced 23/20 (BoyleSports) and is the best play given the lack of corner handicap markets available for this fixture, and the outright price on Oxford Most Corners is only 2/5.

Card markets standout

A final selection will focus on the cards market and that is mainly due to the appointment of Robert Jones as the referee for the final. He normally does his officiating in the Championship, and even dipped into the Premier League on one occasion this season.

Just a little theory I have is that refs that come down from the leagues won’t necessarily be as used to the hustle and bustle type of football that you can see in the lower leagues. Will he let as much go?

Oxford and Wycombe are ranked in the top seven in League One in relation to average amount of fouls conceded. They certainly like to dish it out a bit, and with so much on the line I can’t see that changing a great deal on the night.

Jones will be the man in the middle and he has taken charge of 31 matches over the course of the season. In six of those he produced five or more yellow cards, but is yet to remove the red-card out of his back pocket. He does however give out an average of 3.22 yellow cards per game, and I just think we need to focus on a card market or two.

At the time of writing they were no specific booking points markets available, but they should be closer to kick-off. Take in mind what is mentioned above when looking at those kind of markets, and maybe 30+ booking points is a good option.

However, for the basis of this article, we’ll plump for Alex Gorrin to be booked at 12/5 (Bet365). He has 12 yellows in 30 league appearances, and was possibly fortunate not to be sent off in the play-off semi-final second leg.

Also, a small play on Simon Eastwood to be carded at 18/1 (Bet365) would do no harm either. I’m of the opinion that this will be quite a close game, but Oxford are the favourites and are deemed the more likely winners on the day.

For what it is worth, I give them the edge in terms of who will gain promotion. I just picture a scenario where Eastwood is taking his time over a free kick or goal kick towards the end of the match to kill some time. At 18/1, it is worthy of a little something. He has no bookings this season, but what a place to get your first!

Best Bets

Oxford v Wycombe – Oxford Over 6.5 Corners (23/20 BoyleSports)

Oxford v Wycombe – Alex Gorrin to be booked (12/5 Bet365)

Oxford v Wycombe – Simon Eastwood to be carded (18/1 Bet365)

About Author

Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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