Oxford United v Bristol Rovers Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to managerless Oxford this weekend looking to bounce back from a late defeat last time out.

Rovers conceded an 88th minute goal to Shrewsbury last weekend, condemning themselves to a first defeat in 2018 but have the opportunity to quickly rectify the loss as they head to Oxford, bringing 1800 Rovers fans with them.

Rovers have always been well supported away from home, especially when it comes to games at the Kassam Stadium and midfielder Ollie Clarke believes that the away support could be key in getting a result.

“Every time we go there it’s a big atmosphere because it’s somewhat of a derby and the fans always get right behind us no matter where we go and hopefully we’ll send them home happy,” Clarke told the club’s website.

“The last few times we’ve been there it’s been a good place to go and we’ve managed to pick up a few wins, so hopefully we can get some more points on the board and kickstart another run again.

“It’s a very tight league and in every game you’re almost looking to see where a win could take you.

“I think that we’ve just got to stay solid and keep looking to pick up points and we’ve done that a lot better since the turn of the year and hopefully we can do it again on Saturday.”

Rovers could welcome back club captain Tom Lockyer after the defender missed the last two matches through injury with fellow defenders Daniel Leadbitter and James Clarke also nearing a return to full fitness.

Oxford go into the game looking to make it two league wins out of two under caretaker boss Derek Fazackerley.

The U’s snatched a dramatic 3-2 win at Charlton last weekend and the caretaker boss wants his side to emulate the hunger and desire shown last time out.

“We definitely want the same hunger, desire and application that we took away from the Valley,” he told the club’s website.

“If we can do that it gives us a far better chance of achieving a result, and we want to get a home result so we can build momentum between now and the end of the season.

“A win in football puts a smile on everybody’s face and maybe makes people concentrate and work on things that little bit harder with a focus that hopefully gets you a result.”

Oxford go into the game sweating on the fitness of strikers Wes Thomas and Jon Obika, who both missed last weekend’s win through injury.

Fazackerley said that Thomas may be OK for the game but if not then teenage striker Malachi Napa may continue his place in the side.

Stats

The reverse fixture earlier this season ended in a 1-0 Oxford win at the Memorial Stadium.

Former Oxford midfielder Liam Sercombe has netted 10 times this season since joining Rovers.

The last time these two sides met at the Kassam Stadium ended in a 2-0 Rovers win, Ollie Clarke and Stuart Sinclair with the goals.

21, Bristol Rovers fan for as long as i can remember. Highlight has to be to 06/07 Play Off win. Seen Rovers at 43/92 clubs in England and counting.

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