Bristol Rovers v Oxford United Match Preview
By Simon Gray
Week two of the EFL League One season brings two newly promoted sides against each other as Bristol Rovers face Oxford United at the Memorial Stadium.
The Gas are full of confidence after a Chris Lines wonder goal against Cardiff set up a dream tie with four time Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
However Rovers boss Darrell Clarke has said that he will tell his players to put the thought of the Premier League giants behind them as they focus on gaining their first points of the season.
“We are looking forward to going to Chelsea,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.
“We will make some money from a game at Stamford Bridge and it is also a good one for the supporters.
“It will be great for us to pit our wits against Chelsea and their star players, but that is in the future. We have important league games before we go to Stamford Bridge and our focus immediately switches back to League One.
“We have a difficult game against Oxford United on Sunday so we will be in early on Friday and Saturday and be ready to try and get our first league points on the board.
“There will be some tired legs in the camp but I have great belief in the squad at my disposal. If I need to make five or six changes on Sunday I am comfortable with doing that.”
Oxford meanwhile also beat Championship opposition in Birmingham City to secure a place in the EFL Cup round two. They will face another Championship side in Brighton at home.
There will be no love lost in this weekend’s fixture after last season’s match at The Mem and midfielder Alex MacDonald is looking forward to another hard fought battle.
“It was feisty, but I think that comes from the atmosphere,” he told the Oxford Mail.
“We’re looking to take our gameplan to them and hopefully come away with something positive.
“Every away game, especially in League One with the bigger grounds, you’re going to have a lot more fans.
“It can really spur you on and give you that extra five or ten per cent when you need it.”
Both bosses are expected to make changes after both sides won in extra time in the week. Clarke is expected to have a fully fit squad at his disposal where as Chey Dunkley and Christian Ribeiro are the only unavailable players for Oxford.
Last season’s match ended in a 1-0 Oxford away win thanks to a Kemar Roofe stunner in which both Ollie Clarke and Liam Sercombe were sent off for each side. Rovers amended the defeat with a 2-1 away win at the Kassam Stadium in the reverse fixture.
There have been 50 competitive matches between the two sides since 1963. Bristol Rovers have won 19, Oxford have 18 wins and there have been 13 draws.
Bristol Rovers striker Matty Taylor reportedly shook hands with Oxford boss Michael Appleton in a deal to take him to his boyhood club before he signed a new contract with the Gas.
Rovers are unbeaten at home since the end of last November. A run of 15 games without defeat.