Bristol Rovers claimed back-to-back wins in League One as they edged out Oxford United 1-0 at the Memorial Stadium.
John Marquis’ first goal for the Gas which was netted ten minutes from half-time was the only goal of the game in an edgy encounter in the blistering heat.
The win put themselves on top of the standings in League One for the time being, owing to the earlier kick-off with the other teams to follow.
The opening moments were played high tempo despite the hot temperature but Oxford imposed themselves better on the game using the flanks.
A floated header from Sam Long cannoned off of the crossbar from a well-delivered corner-kick with the goalkeeper beaten.
From surviving that early scare, Rovers put Simon Eastwood to work as Sam Finley’s driven shot had to be tipped over the bar.
A well-worked move rehearsed from the training ground resulted in Rovers and Marquis’ first goal. Evans laid the ball to Finley to scoop the ball to Aaron Collins and he was able to direct it to Marquis to header it into an empty net.
Marquis was targeted by multiple Oxford players and Elliott Moore escaped a red card. The striker was mauled down by the defender and after the two fell to the ground, the U’s defender pushed his head that only merited a caution.
After seeing out the remainder of the first half without a response, Rovers were able to hold a one-goal lead going into the break.
In the opening few minutes, however, Oxford spurned a glorious chance to get back on level terms as James Henry from yards out headed over from Matty Taylor’s cross.
Neither Bodin nor Taylor wouldn’t net against his former club as he was replaced by Kyle Joseph who made his first appearance after joining from Welsh club Swansea City.
Collins almost doubled Rovers’ advantage as he tried an attempt from an acute angle but it was blocked before Eastwood could gather.
In stoppage time substitute Ryan Loft had the chance to double his account but his tame effort was saved after his hard work of pressuring the defender. There was no need to rue the missed opportunity however as Rovers we
James Belshaw - 7
Belshaw continued to show that he’s not your average goalkeeper. A confident dribble on the right-flank shows he isn’t just about saving shots.
He didn’t face too much from Oxford’s attack in regards to saves but was assured in between the sticks.
Harry Anderson - 8
Made a terrific challenge to deny Billy Bodin a clear goalscoring opportunity in the opening moments of the match.
He had a tricky opponent in front of him in Bodin but was got the better of him in the first half. His ability to turn into quite an attack-minded player to defence should be applauded.
Superb interception to deny Marcus Browne who was ready to pull the trigger.
James Connolly - 7
At times looked uncomfortable in possession when Oxford attackers put pressure on to him. Didn’t make any major errors.
Luca Hoole - 7
Coped well when crosses were coming into the box, hooking them away when he could. Some low-crosses did beat him and Connolly but he was saved by his full-backs. Put in a troubling cross that was almost tapped home by Ryan Loft.
Lewis Gordon - 7
A lot of what Oxford did in the first half came down Gordon’s side. He didn’t make any major errors but there were crosses left-right-and-centre coming from his side. It meant that the likes of Connolly and Hoole had to be alert to stop the danger coming in from a central position.
Improved in the second-half and was able to show the attacking side of his game before being substituted.
Glenn Whelan - 7
Played almost an hour after being given a surprise start after club captain Paul Coutts’ was made available.
Most of what Oxford were doing was through the flanks so that wasn’t in his remit to provide cover for the full-backs. Sam Finley was the more workmanlike midfielder going from box-to-box but the player-coach was able to sweep up.
Sam Finley - 7
Finley’s passing was spot on, attempting the audacious with some long-range attempts. Played a part in Marquis’ goal who threaded the ball to Collins and also made some well-timed challenges.
Made way for Coutts with 20 minutes remaining as Barton carefully manages his load to avoid any injuries.
Harvey Saunders - 7
Had a coming together with Steve Seddon early in the first half which could have resulted in more given he squared up after being fouled. Saunders was in the right but needed to keep his cool in such a matter.
Picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Marcus McGuane, which he should have attempted to time better. Awarded the man-of-the-match in the ground for his workman like performance.
Antony Evans - 6
Wasn’t able to impose himself on the game as he would have liked but played a small part in the only goal of the match.
Aaron Collins - 7
An assist for Marquis means that the Welshman has got a goal contribution in all three league matches now. He is becoming very important to what Rovers do in attack.
John Marquis - 7
Broke his Rovers duck which will come as a relief. The work was done mainly by his teammates but he still had to score his goal.
Took a lot of battering from Oxford’s players who obviously targeted him to try and roughen him up. Came off with ten minutes remaining after a solid first-half shift.
Jordan Rossiter (subbed on for Glenn Whelan, 59) - 6
Nothing more nothing less from Rossiter who put in a satisfiable performance.
Paul Coutts (subbed on for Sam Finley, 69) - 6
Almost played his side into danger but was bailed out by Anderson.
Josh Grant (subbed on for Lewis Gordon, 78) - 6
Earned a caution when he came on but was keen to go forward
Lewis Gibson (subbed on for Harvey Saunders, 79)
Came on for his debut but didn’t have to do much.
Ryan Loft (subbed on for John Marquis, 79) - 6
Did well to nab possession but when presented with the chance to score he was tame with his effort.