O'Toole's penalty seals deserved win
Oxford United 0
Bristol Rovers 1
O’Toole (pen, 71)
An outstanding team performance saw Rovers take all three points against Oxford this afternoon.
The all important goal came from the penalty spot, scored by John-Joe O’Toole after Eliot Richards had been brought down by Jake Wright.
It was enough to give John ward’s side their first away win of the season and was thoroughly deserved.
Chris Beardsley made his debut for Rovers at Oxford this afternoon, replacing Ryan Brunt who was on the bench.
It was the only change made by manager John Ward and although Matt Harrold and Lee Brown travelled with the squad they weren’t involved today.
Rovers began brightly, but it was the home side who created the first opportunity and Dave Kitson’s ninth minute effort was deflected behind for the game’s first corner.
Another Kitson effort six minutes later was blocked by Michael Smith, but Rovers enjoyed a great deal of possession without seriously troubling their former goalkeeper Ryan Clarke.
However when the custodian was called into action, he did well to dive to his right to touch Tom Lockyer’s effort round the post.
A James Constable effort was deflected over the bar but the league leaders were looking far from impressive and had to withstand a great deal of Rovers pressure.
The best opportunity for Ward’s side came when Beardsley unselfishly squared the ball to an unmarked John-Joe O’Toole only for the midfielder to completely miss his shot when it seemed odds on he would score.
Eliot Richards shot wide at the end of a determined run into the area and O’Toole did get the ball in the net from another Beardsley pass, but was adjudges to be offside.
Oxford did come back into the game in the final ten minutes of the half and Constable should have scored when he met Sean Rigg’s cross from the left and headed wide from six yards.
Johnny Mullins then glanced a header wide in the final attack of the half, but had Rovers been a little more clinical in front of goal they would have gone in with a half time lead.
Sean Rigg forced Mildenhall into making a fine save at the start of the second half, but O’Toole went close again for Rovers.
He hit a free kick over the bar and then saw Clarke touch his long range effort round the post.
Constable, searching for his 100th Oxford goal, couldn’t have had a better opportunity of achieving it but he squandered the chance, heading over the bar from David Hunt’s cross.
It was a costly error by the striker, as after Mildenhall had made a routine save from substitute Alfie Potter, Rovers took the lead.
Ollie Clarke played the ball through to Eliot Richards who was just inside the Oxford half. He ran all the way into the area before being felled by Wright who, as the last home defender, should probably have received a red card for his efforts.
O’Toole sent Clarke the wrong way with his first ever Rovers penalty and that was it. The goal appeared to knock any fight out of the home and they might well have conceded again when the impressive Alefe Santos forced an excellent save from Clarke.
Mildenhall made one late point blank save from Kitson, but that was the only time Oxford troubled an impressive Rovers side after the penalty and at the final whistle Ward and his players celebrated a first away win of the season with their 862 supporters.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Will Packwood, Tom Lockyer, Seanan Clucas, Ollie Clarke, John-Joe O’Toole, Alefe Santos (Ellis Harrison, 88), Eliot Richards, Chris Beardsley (Ryan Brunt(84)
Substitutes: Ollie Norburn, Alex Henshall, Conor Gough, Pat Keary, Josh Southway
Yellow Cards: Clucas (40), Lockyer (86), O’Toole (90)
Oxford: Ryan Clarke, David Hunt (Deane Smalley, 78), Michael Raynes, Johnny Mullins, Jake Wright, Ryan Williams (Alfie Potter, 60, Scott Davies, 88), Andy Whing, Danny Rose, Sean Rigg, David Kitson, James Constable
Substitutes: Asa Hall, Max Crocombe, Matt Bevans, Josh Ruffels
Yellow Card: Wright (79)
Referee: Mark Brown
Rovers supporters: 862