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ROVERS GET FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON AGAINST OXFORD UNITED

14 August 2016

Bristol Rovers 2-1 Oxford United

Attendance: 10,053 (1,283)

Rovers secured their first points of the League One season with a 2-1 win against Oxford United at the Memorial Stadium.

Matty Taylor's second half goal secured all three points for Darrell Clarke's side after Kane Hemmings had canceled out Jermaine Easter's opener.

Darrell Clarke made five changes to the side that knocked Cardiff City out of the EFL Cup on Thursday night as Mark McChrystal, Billy Bodin, Cristian Montano, Jermaine Easter and Rory Gaffney came into the starting 11 at the expense of Dan Leadbitter, Peter Hartley, Stuart Sinclair, Ellis Harrison and Matty Taylor.

Rovers started very brightly back in a 4-4-2 formation and Billy Bodin was fouled inside the first 60 seconds giving Rovers a free kick. Bodin dusted himself down and delivered a pin point cross onto the head of Mark McChrystal but his powerful header was saved by Simon Eastwood with a superb reaction save.

The home side continued to press in the early going as Chris Lines powered through the middle of the park before slipping a pass through to Rory Gaffney but the Irishman could only drag his shot wide of the post.

Jermaine Easter was looking lively on his first start of the season and was rewarded for his hard work on the 25th minute.

Following a speculative ball up field, Easter was able to out muscle Aaron Martin before advancing into the penalty area and unleashing a powerful drive past Simon Eastwood to give Rovers the 1-0 lead they deserved.

On the half hour mark, Oxford fans were on their feet thinking their side had equalised as Kane Hemmings headed the ball into the path of Liam Sercombe who looked destined to score but nodded the ball wide of Steve Mildenhall's right hand post.

However, with five minutes of the first half remaining Oxford did draw level through Kane Hemmings.

Curtis Nelson fired the ball deep into Rovers territory where Ryan Taylor was able to flick the ball into the path of Hemmings who composed himself well before firing a low shot passed Mildenhall and off the inside of the post.

Neither side threatened inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half, prompting Darrell Clarke to make a double substitution bringing on Ellis Harrison and Matty Taylor to replace Jermaine Easter and Rory Gaffney.

Ellis Harrison was involved in the action almost straight away as Chris Lines powered through the middle before picking out Harrison but the Wales Under-21 International fired just wide of the post.

With little over 20 minutes remaining, Oxford United were reduced to 10 men as Sam Long received his second yellow card of the game from referee Charles Breakspear following a late challenge on Cristian Montano.

Rovers continued to press for that all important second goal and were rewarded with 71 minutes on the clock.

Substitute Luke James floated a cross to the far post where Liam Sercombe was unable to clear the danger and headed the ball back into his own penalty area where who else but Matty Taylor was on hand to shrug off Aaron Martin and fire home past Simon Eastwood.

Darrell Clarke's men didn't seem content with just the one goal lead and continued to attack but efforts from Chris Lines and Cristian Montano were blocked by the United back line.

Oxford had a glorious chance equalise in injury time as Ryan Taylor's shot inside the area fell to substitute Tyler Roberts but he fired well over the crossbar with the goal gaping. 

As time ticked on Rovers began to run time down on the clock as they secured their first points of the League One season.

Up next for Rovers is the visit of Bolton Wanderers to the Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening before traveling to Roots Hall to take on Southend United next weekend.

Rovers: Mildenhall; J. Clarke, Lockyer, McChrystal (C), Brown; Bodin (James - 66), O. Clarke, Lines, Montano; Easter (Taylor - 58), Gaffney (Harrison - 58).

Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), Leadbitter, Gosling, Moore.

Oxford: Eastwood; Skarz, Lundstram (C), Nelson, Martin, Sercombe, Maguire (Rothwell - 74), Macdonald (Crowley - 66), Hemmings (T. Roberts - 80), Taylor, Long.

Unused Substitutes: Buchel (GK), Ruffels, Rothwell, J. Roberts, Welch-Hayes. 

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