Kemar Roofe's second half stunner was enough to earn Oxford United three points at the Memorial Stadium.
Roofe's first time strike clipped the underside of the crossbar on it's way in in a game where both sides finished up with 10 men.
Darrell Clarke made two changes to the side that lost to table topping Leyton Orient last week handing Lee Mansell his first start of the season as well as recalling Matty Taylor into the starting line-up to face his hometown club for the first time.
The home side started the game well putting several balls into the Oxford box in the opening exchanges however the U's defence stood strong.
Rovers were reduced to 10 men with just over 15 minutes played as Ollie Clarke was shown a straight red by referee James Linington for a suspected elbow on Oxford midfielder Danny Rose.
Darrell Clarke's men changed shape following the red card opting for a 4-3-2 formation but seemed to lack that final body in the attacking third.
Oxford had a rare chance 10 minutes before half time as George Baldock's ball in from the right hand side was met by the head of Ryan Taylor but the ex Bristol City man couldn't direct his header on target.
10 minutes into the second half Ryan Taylor went flying into Tom Parkes with the referee only brandishing a yellow card but seconds later the former Bristol City man was replaced by Patrick Hoban.
Referee James Linington evened numbers up just before the hour mark as following some neat interplay by Jermaine Easter and Matty Taylor, Taylor was bundled to the ground by Liam Sercombe who was shown his second yellow of the game.
However it was Oxford who struck first through Kemar Roofe. The U's man was allowed space to shoot on the edge of the area and curled one into the top right hand corner of the goal with the ball clipping the crossbar on it's way past a helpless Aaron Chapman.
Rovers almost hit back instantly as a slick passing move found its way to Lee Brown on the Rovers left. Brown swung a perfect cross into the far post which Matty Taylor headed into the path of Jermaine Easter who lashed a volley into the arms of Sam Slocombe.
With 15 minutes to go Rovers upped the ante and a lovely ball into the Oxford penalty area was met by Tom Parkes who could only head into the arms of Sam Slocombe.
Darrell Clarke brought Billy Bodin on for the final five minutes and was instantly involved as he was bundled to the ground by Jake Wright. Chris Lines stepped up to take the free kick and foraced a fantastic save from Sam Slocombe who was at full stretch.
The home side threw the kitchen sink at Oxford in injury time including Aaron Chapman coming up for a corner which was eventually headed wide moments before the referee blew his whistle for full time.
Up next for Rovers is the visit of Accrington Stanley to the Memorial Stadium next weekend before taking the trip to the south coast to take on Plymouth Argyle.
Rovers: Chapman; Sinclair, J. Clarke (Bodin - 84), Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Mansell (C) (Montano - 74), O. Clarke, Lines, Taylor (Harrison - 67), Easter.
Unused Substitutes: Mildenhall (GK), Lyttle, Greenslade, Monakana.
Oxford: Slocombe; Baldock, Dunkley, Wright, Skarz; Roofe (Lundstram - 76), Sercombe, Rose, MacDonald; Hylton (Ruffels - 89), Taylor (Hoban - 55).
Unused Substitutes: Buchel (GK), Hawtin, Roberts, George.