OXFORD United have twice thwarted Ryan Williams’ promotion dream – but the winger is desperate to help the club take the next step.

The Australian’s two seasons at Portsmouth were ended by the U’s, who beat the south coast side in the 2020 Sky Bet League One play-off semi-finals and pipped them to sixth place last term.

Williams played in both legs of the last-four clash and started Pompey’s 1-0 defeat to Accrington Stanley last May, which allowed United to leapfrog them on the final day.

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The 28-year-old has some good memories of this time of year, though, having helped Rotherham United win the League One play-offs in 2018.

Williams returns to the New York Stadium tomorrow with the U’s, who surely need a win to keep their top-six hopes alive.

And he is keen to banish the memories of the last two years by helping United get promoted.

“That (last year) was a really big shame and one that still hurts, as well as the season before when we lost in the play-offs,” Williams said.

“It’s always at the back of your mind, because you’ve been chasing it for the last two years.

“Two seasons before that I got promoted with Rotherham, so I know what it feels like and I know how it’s done.

“It’s been so close the last two years and fingers crossed it’s third time lucky.”

United spent just 72 hours in the play-off places before the end of last season, only to leapfrog Pompey with a 4-0 final-day win over Burton Albion.

They have spent most of this term in and around the top six, but dropped out after the 1-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle on April 2 and sit eighth with two games remaining.

It means United go to second-placed Rotherham in relaxed mood, despite the prize at stake.

Williams said: “There’s absolutely no pressure on us at the moment and I think that’s when we do our best work.

“As a footballer this is what you want, these are big games and it’s almost like a play-off before the play-off – if we manage to sneak in there.

“If we do it’ll be good, because we’ll be the ones with the momentum.”

Rotherham led the League One table for much of the season and many thought they would have sealed an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship by now.

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But they have stumbled at the worst time, losing four of their last five matches to leave them only above third-placed MK Dons on goal difference.

Williams reckons there will be a few nerves at his former club and hopes United can capitalise.

He said: “Rotherham are in a bit of a tricky spell and we usually start games quite quickly.

“Hopefully we can draw their fans into that and our fans can lift us to get on top early doors.

“I think it’s easier for fans to get their heads around if they were in our position going upwards.

“But when you’re in the top three for the majority of the season and slip away a little bit that can be frustrating.”