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Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 18:06 UK

Oxford set for Wembley showdown

Wembley Stadium
Oxford will be making their first appearance at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium

By Jerome Sale
BBC Oxford

Oxford United manager Chris Wilder is hoping the pain he endured as a fan at Wembley last season will be avoided by supporters of his own side this weekend.

Wilder, a lifelong Sheffield United follower, saw the Blades beaten in the Championship play-off final by Burnley last May.

A year on, Wilder is desperate for a different experience of the national stadium as his side face York in the Blue Square Premier play-off final for a place back in the Football League.

"I know what it means to the punters who are going to support us on Sunday," Wilder told BBC Oxford.

"I hope they will walk out of Wembley happier than I did."

Wilder has also been on the wrong end of the Conference play-offs as a manager in the past - his Halifax side were beaten by Hereford in 2006.

But he dismisses talk that it could be third time lucky for him with the U's, whose last Wembley appearance was the 1986 Milk Cup final.

We had 46 games to try and go up at the start of the season. Now we have one

Oxford chairman Kelvin Thomas

"I don't believe in that sort of superstitious stuff," he said.

"The players are focused, nice and calm and determined. I have said to them to grab the opportunity.

"You can't say it's not a special occasion because it is, but I am happy with how we have prepared for the game. We've got a great chance."

Top scorer James Constable is no stranger to Wembley, having played and scored there for Kidderminster in the 2007 FA Trophy final defeat by Stevenage.

Indeed, his first-half brace in that game made him the scorer of the first two competitive goals at the new stadium.

And with the stakes higher this time because of the prize up for grabs, Constable is hoping to get on the scoresheet again - only this time with a better final outcome.

"I have had a dream about scoring at Wembley, but it might have been the goals for Kiddy coming back to me," said Constable.


Victory for Oxford would see them return to the Football League after a four-year absence.

The U's are expected to have more than 30,000 fans at Wembley roaring them on and club chairman Kelvin Thomas hopes that will spur on the team.

Thomas said: "I think Oxfordshire is excited about it. We felt it was special when 3,000 went to Rushden and 11,000 watched the home semi-final.

"The players were amazed and excited about that - so double or treble that - that's how we're going to feel.

"It is one game. We had 46 games to try and go up at the start of the season. Now we have one."

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see also
Oxford United 3-1 York City
16 May 10 |  Non League
York eye Football League return
12 May 10 |  York
U's will focus on winning - Lewis
11 May 10 |  Oxford Utd
Constable eager for Wembley win
08 May 10 |  Oxford Utd
Creighton focused on Wembley test
06 May 10 |  Oxford Utd
U's must finish the job - Wilder
04 May 10 |  Oxford Utd
Oxford 2-0 Rushden (agg 3-1)
03 May 10 |  Non League
Rushden & Diamonds 1-1 Oxford Utd
29 Apr 10 |  Non League
Smith positive despite relegation
07 May 06 |  Oxford Utd
Oxford United 2-3 Leyton Orient
06 May 06 |  League Two

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