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20 October 2018 Venue The Memorial Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: Rovers v Oxford United

19 October 2018

Rovers welcome Oxford United to the Mem on Saturday afternoon, with just a point separating the two sides in the SkyBet League One table.

It was more late heartache for Rovers last time out, as they suffered their second stoppage time blow in the space of seven days, losing it late away to Burton Albion just under a week ago.

Despite defeat in their last two, Rovers' have been defensively sound of late, conceding just three goals in their last seven games in all competitions.

However, it's at the other end where the trouble has been; Darrell Clarke's men haven't been able to score in their last four league games, although they did put two past Yeovil Town in the Checkatrade Trophy 10 days ago.

Rovers also beat Coventry City 3-1 at the Mem towards the end of last month, so can take encouragement and reassurance that this side is capable of finding the back of the net; something that was done on a regular basis last season.

Gaffer's view: Darrell routinely spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon and was under no illusions of the importance of Saturday's game.

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Preview: Darrell Clarke on Oxford United

Parts' view: Joe Partington joined his Manager on press duties and echoed much of what the Gaffer had to say.

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Preview: Joe Partington on Oxford

Opposition: Similarly to Rovers, Oxford haven't endured the greatest start to their season and only Plymouth Argyle currently separates them from the very foot of the table. Despite their struggles, they did manage their second league victory of the season last weekend, defeating 10-man Arygle 2-0 at the Kassam Stadium. Their only other league triumph also came against 10-men, a 3-1 win at home to Burton in late August. They tend to fare better in front of their home support and are yet to record a league victory away from the Kassam this campaign.

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Opposition View: Oxford United

Last Time We Met: The most recent installment of this fixture produced one of the more memorable 2017/18 away days for Rovers fans, a thoroughly enjoyable 2-1 win in Oxfordshire in February this year. Things didn't get off to the best of starts that day, as the hosts took the lead after just two minutes through Joe Rothwell, which would be the only goal of the first half. Rovers came out after the break and began asking more questions of United and found a way through just before the 70th-minute mark, as Kyle Bennett netted his first goal for the club with a deflected strike just inside the area. The visitors continued to press for another and got it in the 80th minute as Ollie Clarke chipped a delightful ball into the box for Ellis Harrison, who showed great composure to volley home and claim all three points for the Gas.

Tickets: There is availability on the day, but we do advise fans to purchase in advance to avoid queues. Online tickets can be purchased up until midnight on Friday, 19th October. To buy online click HERE.

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Ticket Information: Oxford United

Keeping Up With The Game: As usual, we will have updates throughout the game on social media. If you can't make it to the Mem on Saturday, supporters based abroad will be able to watch the game on iFollow. For more information about iFollow - please click HERE.

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Match Reports

Match Report: Rovers 0 - 0 Oxford United

20 October 2018

Rovers still could not find the oh-so-elusive goal in Sky Bet League One, as they did everything but score in a frantic second half against strugglers Oxford United on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors may have shaded a first half in which Jack Bonham was the busier of two goalkeepers, but following a pair of half-time substitutions, Rovers tore forward to create chance after chance in a pulsating second period. However, try as they might, they could not score the goal their post-interval dominance deserved.

In the end, a fifth straight league game elapsed without the Gas troubling the scorers, but this performance was surely the best of the bank quintet.

Still looking for the right combination of players to unlock defences, Rovers boss Darrell Clarke opted to recall Tom Nichols to partner Alex Jakubiak up front, who kept his place after a determined performance ploughing a lone furrow at Burton Albion the previous weekend.

Michael Kelly got a recall at left-back, with James Clarke joining Alex Rodman in dropping to the substitutes’ bench, as Darrell opted to play a diamond-shaped midfield quartet. Ed Upson sat as the deepest of the four, Liam Sercombe, against his former club, was at the offensive tip, with the indefatigable Stuart Sinclair and Ollie Clarke as the engine room runners.

Oxford employed a system closely resembling 4-3-3, with wide forwards Gavin Whyte and Marcus Browne sandwiching Jamie Mackie as the central striker. An intriguing narrative to the game would be whether full-backs Kelly and Joe Partington would be able to act as Rovers’ prescribed width and make Whyte and Browne earn their crust.

The first early talking points were Mackie, far from the toast of Bristol, making a lot of a collision with Tony Craig; in fact, making a whole meal of it. Mackie engaged in a running discussion with referee Tom Nield, who in no certain terms told the former QPR frontman to cut out the theatrics, post haste.

Fifteen minutes had elapsed with little action other than Kelly’s shot being blocked after the Scotsman had run the ball a little wide, and that Mackie and Craig were involved again. This time, contrary to the first ‘incident’ which was existed only in Mackie’s head, Craig did instigate contact on Mackie as the Oxford striker tried to close down a pass back to Jack Bonham. The referee quickly acted to award a free-kick to Oxford and show Craig a yellow card. Some inside The Mem feared the colour would be more severe.

Oxford were edging the opening exchanges, and Browne’s hot-knife-through-butter incursion from left the flank ended with a smart save by Bonham to keep parity.

In a staccato game full of free-kicks, Rovers finally got a couple of their own, with the second allowing Upson a chance to deliver into the area. He did and found an unmarked Nichols, but the forward could only direct his header over the bar.

Upson tried his luck himself shortly afterward, turning well in midfield and benefiting from a good advantage played, then shooting just wide from 20 yards. Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood was yet to be troubled.

Nichols went down from an innocuous collision after some patient Rovers build-up play, but Mr Nield was unimpressed. So in turn, were the Rovers’ faithful in response when play was stopped for treatment to Browne. Just after the half-hour mark we had no goals, but plenty of niggle.

The best chance of the first half fell to the visitors on 35 minutes, with Tony McMahon’s excellent right-flank delivery bouncing about and falling at the feet of Shandon Baptiste. It looked as though all the United midfielder had to do was beat Bonham, and he did, but he reckoned without skipper Tom Lockyer, who covered round and cleared brilliantly off the line.

Shortly after, Baptiste won a free-kick on the left touchline, and drew derision for receiving treatment – probably not for the injury, but for the referee allowing the trainers on, when Baptiste was already off the pitch. McMahon swung in another dangerous delivery, which Curtis Nelson headed against the post, and Sinclair scrambled to charge down any possible follow-up.

It was Baptiste’s last action; his injury forced Oxford to replace him with Samir Carruthers. There was still time for Jakubiak to be booked for Rovers, taking the total to five at this point, following Craig and Sercombe for the Gas, and Oxford’s Mackie and Brown.

Mackie was booked – quelle surprise – for a pull back on a retreating Craig. Their personal two-falls-to-a-finish was now nicely poised at one apiece.

Five minutes injury time indicated the nature of the stoppages that littered the first period, and during said injury time James Henry brought Bonham into action again, the Rovers goalkeeper making a smart save low to his right.

An Ollie Clarke daisycutter from a direct free-kick was goalwards, but Eastwood’s, and immediately it was onwards to half-time.

During the interval, Kyle Bennett and Sam Matthews had their warm-ups activity curtailed, and they were soon taking their place in the second half side, at the expense of Ollie Clarke and Jakubiak.

That spelled the end of the diamond shape, with Matthews and Bennett being employed as wingers either side of Nichols, and Sercombe reverting to a midfield berth with Sinclair and Upson.

The switches seemed to pay instant dividends, Bennett first twisted and turned his way down the outside left before a cross that found no-one, and then followed this with a cut inside following Upson’s hard work, to hit a deflected shot wide.

On the right flank, Partington’s overhit cross looped and hit the crossbar before escaping the pitch, eliciting an ‘ooh’ from a rejuvenated Mem crowd.

Their fervour leapt a further notch when Sinclair nearly wriggled on to a Kelly cutback, then Bennett forced Eastwood into a simple, but vital, save. Bennett then ran at a rapidly retreating Oxford backline, and feeding Nichols, who poked not far wide.

Surely it was coming…Upson to Partington, who volleyed a fantastic cross first time into the area. It reached Nichols, who shot instinctively, and saw his effort deflected against the underside of the crossbar. The rebound looked set for Sinclair, but would not fall, and his desperate shot was charged down. Partington picked up the loose one and shot on target, but Eastwood fell on the ball and grasped it gratefully like it was his boyhood bedtime bear.

How often, after the best chance of the game goes astray, does the killer goal come at the other end? As James Henry drew back his right foot, in space on the edge of the area, it looked like the inevitable response, but Craig’s block was so good he celebrated it, and so did nearly 8,000 grateful Gasheads.

With a dozen hot-air balloons skimming low across the South Bristol skyline, our own city’s version of dreaming spires bathed in autumn sunshine, back came Rovers, burners on, with Bennett sliding Nichols in, the forward cutting inside past a defender, but allowing Eastwood to close him down and make the block.

Rovers kept the chances coming, but the ferocity of them naturally dwindled. Upson scuffed one on target, Sercombe dragged one wide. Darrell Clarke brought on Stefan Payne after Nichols took a knock in a bid to force something, but come it would not.

Rovers XI: Jack Bonham (GK), Joe Partington, Tom Lockyer (c), Tony Craig, Michael Kelly; Ollie Clarke (Kyle Bennett, half-time), Ed Upson, Stuart Sinclair, Liam Sercombe; Alex Jakubiak (Sam Matthews, half-time), Tom Nichols (Stefan Payne 84).

Unused Subs: Adam Smith (GK), Chris Lines, James Clarke, Alex Rodman.

Booked: Craig 15, Sercombe 21, Jakubiak 45.

Oxford United XI: Simon Eastwood (GK), Tony McMahon, Curtis Nelson, Rob Dickie, Josh Ruffels; James Henry, John Mousinho ©, Shandon Baptiste (Samir Carruthers, 41); Gavin Whyte, Jamie Mackie (Sam Smith, 90), Marcus Browne (Jamie Hanson 78).

Unused Subs: Jonathan Mitchell (GK), Luke Garbutt, Charlie Raglan, Sam Long.

Booked: Browne 26, Mackie 40.

Attendance: 8,506 (921 away).




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Ticket News

Ticket Information: Oxford United

16 October 2018

Fans are advised to purchase tickets in advance of Saturday's game against Oxford United at the Mem, to avoid queues.

We are anticipating a busy afternoon at the Ticket Office and recommend purchasing ahead online; this is the easiest option.

You can also purchase tickets at the Mem from our Superstore - which is open 9am-5pm throughout the week.

If you do end up buying tickets on the day, we'd like to remind you to do this at the Ticket Office situated outside the ground between the North Terrace and West Stand.

We also advise getting to the ground early to avoid queueing for your ticket and would like to point out that we cannot accept cash on the turnstiles.

Family stand tickets are now available for purchase online, but we remind fans you must be accompanied by at least one Under-16 supporter for entry to this stand.

Online tickets for this fixture will be available until midnight on Friday, 19th October.

 

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