Three points and a clean sheet at the Kassam
Oxford United 0
Bristol Rovers 2
Brown (pen, 55), Richards (90)
Rovers returned home from the Kassam Stadium this evening with another win under their belts.
Lee Brown’s twice taken penalty and a stoppage time goal from Eliot Richards earned John Ward’s side all three points.
It was a hard fought win and Ward’s side had to defend in depth at times, but it was deserved nevertheless and thoroughly enjoyed by the 1,932 travelling Gasheads in attendance.
Ward had the unexpected luxury of naming an unchanged side for the game and was also able to name the same substitutes as for Tuesday’s game at Cheltenham.
Just as they did at Whaddon Road, Rovers began the game brightly, and they might well have taken a lead in the first minute of the game when, after some good play down the right, the ball reached Danny Woodards in the Oxford area.
He did manage to get a shot away, but it was directed straight at goalkeeper Luke McCormick and carried little power.
Former Rovers striker Justin Richards managed to get a shot away at the other end, but it was well wide of the target.
John-Joe O’Toole, perhaps inspired by the goal scored by his team mate Ollie Norburn at Cheltenham, tried an ambitious long range effort that drifted wide of goal.
Norburn himself saw a shot blocked and O’Toole saw another effort deflected behind for a corner, as did Ryan Brunt.
Oxford had been quiet for long spells in the half, but on 38 minutes James Constable tested Steve Mildenhall when he capitalised on a rare mistake from Michael Smith. The shot, when it arrived, was powerful but straight at the Rovers shot stopper who beat it away.
Jake Wright fired over the bar before the home side created another decent opportunity.
Substitute Alfie Potter, on for the injured Richards, was unmarked when he collected a ball at the far post. However Tom Parkes was alert to the danger and got in a superb block as the Oxford man pulled the trigger.
Another former Rovers player, Sean Rigg, hit a shot inches wide early in the second half, but it was Rovers who took the lead, with 54 minutes on the clock.
The ball was played up to Ryan Brunt, who cut into the area where he was brought down by Oxford skipper Jake Wright. It was a definite penalty and there were few complaints from the Oxford players.
Brown stepped up to send Luke McCormick the wrong way with his spot kick, but the referee had seen a player encroaching into the area and ordered the penalty to be retaken .
Brown kept his nerve, and put his spot kick in the same place as the first, with McCormick again going the wrong way and Rovers players celebrated with their 1,900 fans.
The home side twice went close through James Constable, who managed to clear the bar with two close range chances, and Damian Batt fired wide of goal and as the home fans became increasingly frustrated with their team.
Rovers wrapped things up in stoppage time. Once again Brunt was fouled and, as the Oxford defenders switched off David Clarkson found Richards with a quick free kick.
The young striker did the rest, running through on goal and beating McCormick in a one on one situation.
For Oxford, it was game over, for Rovers, another giant step towards safety.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Joe Anyinsah (David Clarkson, 62), Seanan Clucas, Ollie Norburn (Eliot Richards, 79), John-Joe O’Toole, Danny Woodards (Fabian Broghammer, 68), Ryan Brunt
Substitutes: Ellis Harrison, Conor Gough, Tom Hitchcock, Clayton McDonald
Yellow card: O’Toole
Oxford United: Luke McCormick, Damian Batt, Michael Raynes (Harry Worley, 87), Jake Wright, Adam Chapman, James Constable, Sean Rigg, Tony Capaldi (Josh Parker, 55), Justin Richards (Alfie Potter, 34), Lewis Montrose, Liam Davis
Substitutes: Deane Smalley, Andy Whing, Luke O’Brien, Max Crocombe
Yellow cards: Richards, Chapman, Montrose
Referee: Andy Madley
Rovers Supporters; 1,932