Oxford United v Bristol Rovers Match Preview
By Simon Gray
Bristol Rovers travel to Oxford United this weekend hoping to extend their unbeaten run.
Rovers head to the Kassam Stadium having not lost in their last seven games, although they have drawn their last six games.
Rovers sit in 11th place in the League One table, one point and two places below Saturday’s opponents and manager Darrell Clarke has not ruled out a play off charge.
“I’ve always got an eye on a next season, but my main focus is in the here and now and I want us to try and put a winning run together,” Clarke told the Bristol Post.
“I have always looked at it on a game-to-game basis and the only thing I want to do now is to finish the season on a positive note. We are on 48 points, which is a decent return after 35 games, and we’ll keep going without ruling anything out. We just want to finish as high as we can.
“The first objective for me before a ball was kicked in August was for us to improve as the season went on. I think we have done that and we will keep striving for further improvement over the final 11 games.”
Clarke will be sweating on the fitness of striker Ellis Harrison after the striker limped off during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers.
Clarke will also be wondering whether to keep Cristian Montano in the side, the winger started the match at the Macron Stadium but was replaced by the goalscorer in the game, Byron Moore.
Oxford go in to the match losing just once in their last six games and are now into the EFL Trophy final for the second year in a row, this time against bottom of the division, Coventry City but goalkeeper Simon Eastwood is concentrating on a possible play off place.
“To get a chance at Wembley is something no-one would turn their nose up at,” he told the Oxford Mail.
“No disrespect to the competition, but I want to play there in the play-off final, which would be massive for the club.
“There’s that many games coming up, the manager has said we’ve got to forget about that.
“We’ve got 14 games left in the league and until the final is the next game, we’ll look to the league games instead.”
The match earlier in the season finished 2-1 to Rovers with Matty Taylor scoring the winner at the Memorial Stadium.
The match at the Kassam Stadium last year also ended in a 2-1 Rovers win with Ellis Harrison scoring the winner from the penalty spot in the 88th minute.
In the last six encounters between the two sides, Rovers have won four times, with Oxford winning once and there being one draw.