Oxford hope to keep Wembley hero Josh Murphy in Championship – Des Buckingham

Murphy’s first-half double sent United back into the second tier for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Josh Murphy scored a first-half brace for Oxford
Josh Murphy scored a first-half brace for Oxford (Adam Davy/PA)

Des Buckingham pledged to try and keep Oxford hero Josh Murphy as the Wembley-born star scored twice in Oxford’s 2-0 play-off final victory over Bolton to earn promotion to the SkyBet Championship.

Murphy’s first-half double sent United back into the second tier for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The 29-year-old winger is now out of contract but Buckingham hopes Oxford’s elevation persuades him to stay.

“It was wonderful to see Josh get his two goals,” said Buckingham. “He has been a delight to work with since I walked through the door.”

When asked if he could keep the player, the United boss added: “I hope so. I said that to him when we were up lifting the trophy.

“We will do as much as we possibly can to keep Josh. We want good people at this club. But he is a very good footballer and fits our style of football.

“If we can keep him and he wants to stay, we will do everything we can and it won’t be for the lack of trying.”

Londoner Murphy’s first double – thanks to two assists from Ruben Rodrigues – in nearly five years came in the opening half as Des Buckingham’s side joined champions Portsmouth and Derby in the English second tier next season.

Victory came a little more than two months since the U’s were hammered 5-0 at the Toughsheet Community Stadium and Buckingham added: “I cannot put it into words.

“This club means so much to so many people. To take it back to the Championship after such a long period of time and to do it the way we did against an excellent Bolton side, I am delighted with.

“The last time I was here I watched James Constable, Matt Green and Alfie Potter score the goals that brought us back into the Football League in 2010 as a fan.

“So, to experience what I just have as a manager is a very special moment.”

Bolton boss Ian Evatt pulled no punches with his post-match assessment.

“That was our worst performance of the season on the biggest stage,” he said. “We were unrecognisable to what we normally are.

“There wasn’t any one player in white who can come away and think we won our individual duel or gave our best version of ourselves.

“There was so much wrong. It is hard to point your finger at one particular thing.

“Mentally, we were not tough or strong enough. From minute one we looked slow, loose with the ball and that’s everything we are not.

“This has to be seen as failure. There is no other way of saying it. You can’t sugarcoat it.

“We had numerous attempts to get in the top two and had the opportunity today and let it slip.

“I don’t even begin to think about the summer or next season at the moment.

“I need to reflect and think about things. And it starts with myself.

“This a day to hurt and wonder how we can be so off colour and so unrecognisable and – at the moment – I don’t have the answer.”