Rovers 0-2 Oxford
It was a disappointing opening day of the season for Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
The Pirates went down 2-0 to Oxford United thanks to goals from Jake Forster-Caskey and Alfie Potter.
Rovers responded in the second half, with substitutes Eliot Richards and Fabian Broghammer both impressing, but the home side could not get on the score sheet.
Mark McGhee made one change to the side that went down at Ipswich in midweek.
Matt Lund replaced Oliver Norburn in midfield. David Clarkson and Sam Walker made their home debuts for the club.
Eliot Richards returned from international duty to take a place on the bench. With Fabian Broghammer cleared to play, also with a seat on the bench.
The game came a little bit too soon for Garry Kenneth who is recovering from a hamstring injury, but he was fit enough to be named as a sub.
It was a fast paced opening exchange at a muggy Memorial Stadium with both sides keen to get off to a good start.
Wayne Brown had the first attempt for Rovers, but his shot was headed away by the Oxford defence.
Then at the other end Oxford had a long range effort that was easily claimed by Sam Walker, before Wayne Brown forced a save from former Gas keeper Ryan Clarke.
Another former Gas man, Sean Rigg saw his attempt go just wide, before Rovers saw Joe Anyinsah’s header disallowed as Adam Virgo was judged to be offside.
Oxford opened the scoring on 21 minutes, Adam Chapman fed the ball into Jake Forster-Caskey, who turned and shot on the edge of the area.
At the other end, Matt Harrold was brought down while through on goal, resulting in a free kick, but Virgo’s effort smashed straight into the Us wall.
Alfie Potter doubled Oxford’s lead just after the half hour mark, after a slip from Michael Smith near the half way line.
The Oxford winger made a great solo run, and slotted the ball home past Walker in the Rovers goal.
Clarkson then had a chance to peg one back for Rovers, but his shot was pushed round the bar by Clarke, before Wayne Brown also had an effort from a corner kick.
Mark McGhee made two changes early in the second half, with Eliot Richards replacing Joe Anyinsah and Fabian Broghammer coming on for Matt Lund.
The change had an instant impact and Richards put a great cross into Harrold with his first touch of the ball.
Broghammer also proved to be dangerous on his debut for the club, sending a number of crosses into the box.
Rovers were definitely attacking with intent in the early period of the second half, as they sought to get themselves back into the game.
Broghammer was brought down on the edge of the area, but Harrold fired the resulting free kick straight into the wall.
Then Harrold with his back to goal found Richards, but his scuffed shot went wide.
Clarkson then tried an overhead kick from the right side of the box, but the ball flashed across the face of goal and out to safety.
Potter then had another chance for Oxford after he got past Jim Paterson, but Lee Brown tracked back and cleared the ball for Rovers.
Richards had a shot from 30 yards out that flew narrowly over the bar, before Broghammer put in another great cross that evaded everyone in the box.
Mark McGhee then made is final throw of the dice, bringing on Oli Norburn for Wayne Brown.
Richards then let fly with another good effort just on the edge of the box following a good spell of passing play from Rovers.
As Rovers continued to look for a goal Clarkson picked up the ball in space, but his scuffed shot could not quite find Harrold in the box.
Substitute Smalley flashed a shot across the face of goal at one end, before Clarkson saw a similar shot fly just wide at the other end.
It was a disappointing start to the season from Rovers, but there were some positives to take from the second half performance.
There is a long season ahead of the team, and they will travel to Barnet on Tuesday night trying to put today’s result behind them.
Bristol Rovers: Sam Walker, Michael Smith, Adam Virgo, Jim Paterson, Lee Brown, Wayne Brown (Oliver Norburn), Matt Gill, Matt Lund (Fabian Broghammer )d, Joe Anyinsah (Eliot Richards), David Clarkson, Matt Harrold.
Substitutes: Conor Gough, Garry Kenneth, Ollie Clarke, Seanan Clucas.
Oxford United: Ryan Clarke, Damien Batt, Michael Raynes, Jake Wright, Tony Capaldi, Sean Rigg, Adam Chapman (Simon Heslop), Jake Forster-Caskey, Lee Cox, Alfie Potter (Tom Craddock), James Constable (Deane Smalley).
Substitutes: Wayne Brown, Sean McGinty, Jon-Paul Pittman, Alex Evans.
Referee: Mr D Mohareb.