Bristol Rovers thrash Oxford United to end month-long wait for victory

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Joey Barton’s side are on course for their first win since January 8

The Bristol Rovers manager shuffled the pack, making six changes to the side that suffered a 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium last week. James Belshaw returned after a five-game absence whilst Lewis Gibson and Sam Finley made a welcome return from injury and suspension respectively.

Joey Barton’s changes had the desired effect as they went in front from the spot with former Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair opening the scoring from the spot. Simon Eastwood saved Aaron Collins’ shot but Lamare Bogarde was taken down in the box and Sinclair stepped forward for the chance from 12-yards. The 33-year-old missed his last spot kick against Morecambe last month, but sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to open the scoring.

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It got better for the Gas six minutes later as they doubled their advantage with Sinclair involved again, this time providing Collins for the goal. The veteran timed his run well and picked out Collins for his 15th goal of the season, ending a run of four games without scoring.

Despite a raft of changes from manager Karl Robinson, who brought on James Henry at half-time and later Ateef Konate and Tyler Goodrham, it would be the visitors who would score the third and decisive goal. In the 75th minute, Luca Hoole would score his first goal in League One, who powered in a header past Eastwood, much to the delight of the 1,437 fans that made the journey.

Hoole’s third goal allowed more substitutes to be made with James Gibbons coming on for Lewis Gibson, who had put in a solid shift in defence. Harry Anderson also came on to replace Scott Sinclair who had set up and scored two of the three goals in a superb display from the Bath-born winger.

Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): James Belshaw, Lewis Gordon, Lewis Gibson (James Gibbons, 76) Jarell Quansah, Luca Hoole, Sam Finley, Paul Coutts (Antony Evans, 71), Lamare Bogarde (Grant Ward, 71), Aaron Collins, John Marquis (Josh Coburn, 71), Scott Sinclair (Harry Anderson, 76)

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Substitutes: Ellery Balcombe, Josh Coburn, James Connolly, Grant Ward, James Gibbons, Harry Anderson and Antony Evans.

Goals: Scott Sinclair (P) 22, Aaron Collins 28, Luca Hoole 75’

Yellow Cards: Aaron Collins 40, Jarell Quansah 54’

Oxford United (4-2-3-1): Simon Eastwood, Sam Long, Elliott Moore, Stuart Findlay, Ciaron Brown; Lewis Bate (Tyler Goodrham, 68), Cameron Brannagan; Kyle Joseph, Marcus Browne (Ateef Konate, 68), Yannic Wildschut (James Henry, 46), Sam Baldock (Gatlin O’Donkor, 20).

Substitutes: McGinty, Fleming, Henry, Konate, Smyth, Goodrham, O'Donkor.

Yellow Cards: Lewis Bate 37, Cameron Brannagan 67’

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