League 1 Playoffs: Tangerines Set for Fruitful First Leg

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Blackpool are League One's in-form team going into the play-offs while Sunderland will be hoping to make it third time lucky.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

The League One play offs get underway on Tuesday evening as Blackpool travel to Oxford, while Lincoln host Sunderland on Wednesday.

All four sides have been involved in play off campaigns in recent seasons, with mixed fortunes.

A place in the Championship next season is the big prize for one of these four outfits.

Familiar Territory for U’s

Oxford have painful play-off memories from last season as they were defeated by Wycombe in the Wembley showpiece.

They appeared to be on the receiving end of a debilitating hangover at the beginning of this season – with Karl Robinson’s side in the relegation zone as recently as December.

In that sense, it has been a remarkable turnaround for Oxford who ended the campaign really strongly.

Portsmouth’s last-day slip-up against Accrington presented Oxford with a golden chance against Burton and they duly took it thanks to a 4-0 thumping.

Attacking-wise, Oxford will be hard to stop – they have netted 24 times in their last seven games with the likes of Matty Taylor and Olamide Shodipo looking hard to stop – both will be ones to watch in the goalscorer markets.

The U’s are 29/20 to score over 1.5 goals in the first leg which may seem generous for a side that score plenty.

Miserly Seasiders to Show Their Attacking Flair

Blackpool’s season has been built more on defensive solidity than attacking flair.

They possess the meanest defence in the league, conceding just 37 goals in the 46 game regular season.

However, goals have come certainly more regularly in the second half of the season, where Blackpool have been League One’s in-form team.

Jerry Yates has been at the heart of their revival – the ex-Rotherham man has hit 22 goals this season with 16 coming after the New Year.

Blackpool know they have a reliable and clinical goalscorer and can therefore try to pounce on the fact that Oxford will attack them at all angles.

Even though first-leg ties can sometimes be a bit cagey, this looks set to be an open affair, and Blackpool may take advantage of Oxford’s all-out-attack style – punters should look to back Neil Critchley’s men at 11/2 to win with both teams to score.

Imps Hoping for Recovery

Things could have been so much different for Lincoln when they were 3-0 up at Peterborough.

Michael Appleton’s men could sense an opening for a top-two place but the Posh roared back to draw 3-3 and secure automatic promotion.

Lincoln, who are 19/10 to win the first leg, have to pick themselves up from that disappointment but there’s no doubt they have the players to do so.

A young and vibrant squad has been built at Sincil Bank with the likes of Brennan Johnson, Jorge Grant and Morgan Rogers impressing this season.

Third Time Lucky for Black Cats?

It hasn’t been an easy season for Sunderland who ended up in fourth place in the table after a dismal end to the campaign.

Lee Johnson replaced Phil Parkinson in December and initially had a very good start to life at the Stadium of Light.

However, they enter the play offs with zero momentum having won only one of their last nine League One matches.

Charlie Wyke could be the man to bail them out of trouble having netted 25 times in the league this season, as Sunderland look to make it out of the third tier at the third attempt.

The Black Cats suffered late heartbreak at Wembley two years ago then were victims of the Covid pandemic last year as the season was ended prematurely.

Sunderland’s extra experience in and around their squad could very well prove the difference though, and should see them get over the line in Wednesday’s first leg and punters can back them to win with both teams to score at 9/2.

*All odds correct at time of writing

The first choice in any quiz team, Jack is your man for stats, facts and information across a wide range of different sports. As well as a vast knowledge of football, he specialises in cycling, rugby and tennis amongst a number of other sports.

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