LEADING his hometown side out at Wembley for the Sky Bet League One play-off final will be the proudest moment in Des Buckingham’s life, the Oxford United coach has said.

The U’s edged past Peterborough United 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, to set up a final against Bolton Wanderers a week on Saturday.

For Buckingham, the game will mark the end of a remarkable first campaign with United, having arrived in November to replace Liam Manning, who had left for Bristol City.

Buckingham has had to deal with an injury crisis, key loan players leaving in January, and a topsy-turvy run of form while he sought to stamp his mark on the team.

READ ALSO: Reaction from Des Buckingham after Oxford United reach Wembley for play-off final

It all came together towards the end of the season though, and Buckingham is excited for one final game this year, and a shot at promotion to the Championship.

He said: “It’ll be without doubt the proudest moment of my career, to lead my hometown club into Wembley in my first season here.

“We’ve had some tough moments, but we’ve stuck together, and people have stuck together so strongly.

“It’s certainly the proudest moment I’ve had in my career and my life. I can’t wait to lead this team out at Wembley, to try and go one step further.

“What a wonderful experience it will be. We know we’ll fill our allocation, no doubt.

“I can’t wait to walk out at Wembley and see that one side full of yellow shirts. If we can replicate the atmosphere that we had with 11,000 at the Kassam, with 36,000 people at Wembley, that will be an unbelievable experience.”

Buckingham added: “It’ll take a couple of days to wipe this smile off my face. I’m so happy for everyone associated with this club.

“Thank you for sticking by us as a team and us as a club, and we’ll do everything we can to make you proud next weekend.”

Oxford Mail:

If the U’s are to reach the Championship, they will have to get past a Bolton side who beat them 5-0 at the Toughsheet Community Stadium in March.

Buckingham said: “Bolton was a big blip and it’s left us with a scar, so it’ll be nice to go back and play them.

“We’ve started to play some really good football. It came together post that moment, and I think people may see that as a reaction and something that was a reset.

“It wasn’t so much a reset that played its part, but there was a lot of time and work, and we started to see it at Port Vale when we won 2-0.

“We’ve just built on that, and the players have got a good understanding of what we do and how we do it, and we’re getting better game by game.

“Although we didn’t have much of the ball tonight, in terms of playing the way we want, what was really pleasing was the other side of the game, which people don’t often talk about with the defensive side, which is going to be so important next week.”