Oxford United 0-2 Bristol Rovers
Attendance: 9,862 (1,798 away)
Ollie Clarke fired Rovers into an early lead at the Kassam, with midfielder's opening goal followed up by a Stuart Sinclair strike ten minutes before the half-time break, as Rovers defeated Oxford by a two-goal scoreline in SkyBet League One.
Rovers headed into the game with a side that included three changes from the side that drew with Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday, with Luke James, Lee Brown and Byron Moore all included in the starting line-up for the fixture at the Kassam Stadium.
The visitors started the game brightly and were quick to test Oxford 'keeper Simon Eastwood, with Ollie Clarke taking advantage of space outside the area to launch a right-footed shot that Eastwood was forced to tip around the post for a corner. The resulting set-piece caused a scramble inside the six-yard box, with Ryan Sweeney poking the ball towards goal but the defender's effort was blocked by Eastwood from close-range.
Rovers were ahead just fifteen minutes into the game when Ollie Clarke did well to latch onto a long ball into the area and the midfielder was able to see off the advances of Joe Skarz before calmly cutting the ball back onto his left foot and was able to apply a measured curling finish into the far corner to put Rovers ahead in the game.
Following on from the early goal, well-worked move from Rovers saw Lee Brown set free down the left-hand side, with the left-back cutting a ball back to the feet of Billy Bodin, but from the edge of the area, Bodin could only direct his snapshot over the crossbar. At the other end of the pitch, James Clarke made a vital defensive header to divert a cross from the left away from Liam Lundstram, with the Oxford skipper poised to attack the cross at the far post.
Oxford created their best chance of the half when a driven cross from Marvin Johnson was played into the path of the advancing Conor McCaleny, who fired a first-time volley that beat Lumley but rebounded off the base of the post.
Moments after Oxford came close to levelling the scores, Rovers were able to extend their lead when Luke James picked out Stuart Sinclair with a neat touch on the edge of the area. Sinclair controlled the ball and on the turn the sent a low, right-footed shot that buried into the corner of the net, with Eastwood unable to get a hand to the shot.
In stoppage time in the first-half Joe Lumley was called into action when a free-kick from Conor McAleny found the target, but the Rovers' shot-stopper watched the set-piece well and was able to tip the effort over the crossbar to protect Rovers' two-goal lead heading into the break.
The hosts shuffled their pack during the break and replaced left-back Joe Skarz with Joe Rothwell, with led to Oxford drafting in winger Marvin Johnson to play left-back for the final forty-five minutes.
Ollie Clarke began the second half brightly and drove into the Oxford box before striking a shot on goal that was deflected behind for a corner. Ryan Sweeney leapt to meet Chris Lines' corner, but the defender directed his header just over the crossbar.
Chances were hard to come by in the second half, with Rovers enjoying the majority of possession and in doing so restricted Oxford to few chances. Billy Bodin found himself free inside the Oxford area and was able to create a shooting opportunity, but his attempt was blocked by numerous Oxford defenders who had thrown themselves at the shot.
Oxford had a rare break into the Rovers area when Johnson and Rothwell combined down the left, but when the ball found McAleny inside the box the striker launched an effort on goal that was stopped by the outstretched legs of Joe Lumley at the near post.
There was late introductions for Lee Mansell and Cristian Montano, as Rovers saw the out the game to record the victory on the road, extending the recent unbeaten run to eight games.
Next up is the visit of Southend United to the Mem next Saturday in SkyBet League One.
Oxford United: Simon Eastwood (G), Joe Skarz (45' Joe Rothwell), Joe Lundstram (C), Toni Martinez, Conor McAleny, Phil Edwards, Ryan Ledson, Charlie Raglan, Marvin Johnson, Chey Dunkley
Substitutes: Jack Stevens, Cristian Ribeiro, Josh Ruffels, Joe Rothwell, Sam Long, Canice Carrol.
Rovers: Joe Lumley (G), Tom Lockyer (C), Ryan Sweeney, Lee Brown, James Clarke, Chris Lines, Billy Bodin (76' Cristian Montano), Ollie Clarke (87' Lee Mansell), Stuart Sinclair, Byron Moore, Luke James (60' Rory Gaffney).
Substitutes: Steve Mildenhall (G), Cristian Montano, Lee Mansell, Daniel Leadbitter, Robert Harris, Jonny Burn, Rory Gaffney