“IT needs to be third time lucky, doesn’t it?”

Josh Ruffels is set to claim his own piece of Oxford United history on Monday, by becoming the first player to make three Wembley appearances for the club.

It is an impressive achievement, but given the way the first two games went it will not be a fact the defender will look back on fondly if the Sky Bet League One play-off final does not go to plan.

An injury to Joe Skarz opened the door for Ruffels, who went to United’s Conference final in 2010 as a fan, to play in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final in 2016, where they were edged out 3-2 by Barnsley.

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Twelve months later he was a substitute as unfancied Coventry City pulled off an upset to win 2-1 and lift the Checkatrade Trophy.

While those setbacks were painful, there is no doubt Monday’s game has far more riding on it – and even with Wembley having to be empty due to coronavirus measures, Ruffels believes his previous experiences will help.

He said: “We went the day before the last time to take in the surroundings.

“I don’t need to do that now, you know about the changing rooms, the pitch size.

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“I think the experience can go a long way in these games and it will definitely help I played there before.

“When you compare it to the Trophy games, you’re disappointed but you get over it fairly quickly.

“But we’ve been grinding all year for this moment, so it will definitely mean a lot more. It’s a lot bigger than anything I’ve ever experienced.”