13.08.22 Match Report - Rovers 1-0 Oxford

A first Rovers goal for John Marquis proved to be the difference in a close contest in searing heat at The Mem. The striker latched onto an Aaron Collins cross to seal the points in the 34th minute.

Rovers made two changes from the midweek Carabao Cup defeat against Crawley Town, with Alfie Kilgour and Ryan Loft coming out of the starting XI for Harvey Saunders and player-coach Glenn Whelan. New loan signing Lewis Gibson started on the bench, alongside the returning midfield duo of Rossiter and Coutts.


After a cagey opening and a predictably warm welcome for former Gas striker Matty Taylor, both sides were inches away from opening the scoring in the 15th minute. Oxford's Long hit the bar with a header from a corner, before Rovers broke away and only a flying stop from Eastwood stopped Sam Finley's curling shot from finding the top corner.

Referee Langford was being called into action on regular occasions and Oxford's Seddon found his way into his book after half an hour for fouling Harvey Saunders on the right wing.

The game came alive in the 34th minute. A clever free-kick from Evo found Finley, who clipped the ball into the area to Collins. His first touch took it away from the onrushing 'keeper and found the head of Marquis, who buried his header from eight yards to open his Gas account.


Brannagan was lucky to escape a booking on 36 when chopping down Anderson. However, only Langford will know what stopped him sending off the U's Moore in the 39th minute. After initially fouling Marquis, the visiting captain sat on the striker's chest and clearly pushed his head into the turf. There wasn't a person in the ground not expecting a straight red card but Langford deemed the offence worthy of a yellow. Understandably, the rest of the half played out to a cacophony of boos (and the odd hiss) from a packed Mem, and the home side departed the field a goal to the good.

Rovers kicked off the second half, attacking the Thatchers End. A neat one-two between Marquis and Gordon saw Collins free down the left. His cross was claimed by Eastwood, under pressure from Saunders. Oxford should have drawn level in the 52nd minute. Taylor crossed deep to find Henry completely unmarked and eight yards out, but he could only head wastefully over Belshaw's bar.

Whelan, a calming influence in midfield, had to leave the pitch for treatment after a 50-50 collision with Henry. He continued for two minutes, but was replaced by Rossiter in the 59th minute.

Taylor was substituted after 63 minutes as Oxford changed formation to try and find a way back into the game. Harvey Saunders saw yellow for a late challenge on Seddon in the 65th minute. The Oxford left-back then flashed a dangerous cross into the Rovers box on their next attack before it was time for a drinks break; the sun unrelenting all game. One player who had not stopped running all day was Sam Finley, who left to a rapturous reception, replaced by the returning Coutts.

Collins did well to force a corner down the left. A quick one-two between Evans and Gordon saw the former flash a cross into the Oxford box.

The Gas made a triple substitution in the 78th minute, with Grant, Loft and Gibson replacing Gordon, Marquis and Saunders.

Outstanding skill from Luca Hoole saw Rovers so nearly go two-up in the 80th minute. He sent Seddon this way and that, before firing a low cross into the area, where Long was forced to concede a corner with Loft waiting to pounce.

Hoole was at it again three minutes later, nutmegging Seddon before finding Rossiter. He laid it off to Marquis to try his luck from thirty yards, but the ball whistled over Eastwood's bar.

Harry Anderson then made a match-winning interception with five minutes remaining. The number 19 raced fully fifty yards to stop the ball finding the feet of an unmarked Browne after a lightning Oxford attack. The U's number 11 then crossed wastefully when well-placed in the 88th minute.

Six minutes of added time were to be added. In the first of them, Loft harried the back line and superbly stole the ball, but could only toe-poke the ball straight at Eastwood. Grant was booked for the Gas as Oxford looked to counter, before Brannagan was also cautioned for a late challenge on Evans.


Rovers were able to see the remainder of the game out and secure a big three points and our first home win of the season. Next up for the Gas is the midweek visit to Barnsley on Tuesday, 16th August (19:45pm KO).

Rovers: James Belshaw, Harry Anderson, James Connolly, Luca Hoole, Lewis Gordon, Sam Finley © (Coutts 70), Glenn Whelan (Rossiter 58), Antony Evans, Aaron Collins, John Marquis, Harvey Saunders.

Subs: Anssi Jaakkola, Alfie Kilgour, Lewis Gibson, Paul Coutts (Finley 70), Jordan Rossiter (Whelan 58), Josh Grant, Ryan Loft.

Oxford: Simon Eastwood, Sam Long, Stuart Findlay, Elliot Moore ©, Billy Bodin, Cameron Brannagan, Matty Taylor, Marcus Browne, James Henry, Marcus McGuane, Steve Seddon.

Subs: Eddie McGinty, Alex Rodriguez, Jodi Jones, Lewis Bate, Ciaron Brown, Kyle Joseph, Tyler Goodrham.

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