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Match Report


Posted Sat 30 Jan 16 at 17:00 PM

Report: Oxford 0 Rovers 3

Rovers booked their place in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Oxford United.

Like their display at Newport County in the previous round, Rovers avoided a potential giant-killing with a thoroughly professional and clinical performance.

Rovers started strongly on their first appearance at the Kassam Stadium, eventually getting their reward when Ben Marshall scored from the penalty spot after the lively Simeon Jackson was brought down in the box.

Then after seeing a close-range shot spectacularly tipped over, Tony Watt marked his debut with a goal in first half injury time. The Scot shooting low into the far corner of the net.

Aside from an early stop to deny Liam Sercombe, keeper Jason Steele was rarely tested as Rovers looked for further goals in the second half.

After Elliott Bennett and substitute Tom Lawrence had gone close, Marshall grabbed his second of the game 14 minutes from time with a free-kick from 20-yards to secure Rovers' safe passage through to Sunday's draw.

Paul Lambert handed debuts to Tony Watt and Elliott Ward for the cup clash, but it was another player making his first start in blue and white who created the first talking point inside five minutes.

There seemed little on when captain Grant Hanley sent a long ball forward, but the pace of Simeon Jackson saw him get the better of Jake Wright only to then be brought down by Johnny Mullins when racing through on goal.

Fortunately for the U's defender, referee Andy Davies only issued a yellow card, had play been a few yards further forward then the card could very well have been red.

Ben Marshall took the resulting free-kick, but as his low effort went around the wall it went wide of goal.

Rovers were positive with their early play but aside from an opportunistic strike from Corry Evans that was off target, the Oxford goal hadn't been troubled.

That changed on 22 minutes when only a fantastic fingertip save from Sam Slocombe prevented a debut goal from Ward. Conway sent a corner kick from the left to the near post to where Ward beat his man to head goalwards only for the home keeper to dive to push the ball away.

Play opened up for Hanley and he looked to take advantage with a strong run, but his shot from distance took a deflection and that took the sting out of the defender's effort to allow Slocombe to claim.

Aside from a couple of clearances, Jason Steele hadn't been involved too much but on 28 minutes he was called up to keep the scoreline at 0-0. Oxford working the ball well inside to where Luke Sercombe struck low from the edge of the box, but Steele got down well to touch the ball behind.

That prompted a spell of play where Rovers had to show their defensive side. Tommy Spurr throwing himself bravely to block a shot from Callum O'Dowda.

But it was in the final third were Rovers were doing their best work and nine minutes before half-time they finally got the goal their play had deserved.

A lovely turn from Watt saw the Scot feed Jackson and he showed Joe Skarz a clean pair of heels into the area before he was sent crashing for a clear penalty.

Ben Marshall stepped up from 12-yards and made no mistake with a firm strike into the bottom right corner. Slocombe dived the right way but had no chance as the full back claimed his third goal of the season.

Boosted by the goal Rovers almost grabbed another three minutes later. 

Breaking from an Oxford free-kick, Watt showed good strength in possession to find Elliott Bennett, he returned the ball to the new signing who advanced before shooting, only for Slocombe to tip the ball over the bar.

But in added time at the end of the first half Watt would get the debut goal that he is famous for.

Nipping at the heels of John Lundstram the Scot stole the ball before shooting a sweetly struck shot that flew low past the U's keeper and nestled into the far corner of the goal.

It was the perfect end to what had been a thoroughly professional first half display.

Needing an early response in the second half Michael Appleton's side looked to take the game to Rovers, but it was the visitors who had a great chance for a third on 56 minutes.

Taking advantage of space on the right Bennett raced into the penalty area, but instead of taking the opportunity to shoot himself, the midfielder looked for Watt and Oxford got bodies back to clear for a corner.

Tom Lawrence replaced goalscorer Watt on the hour mark and he too spurned a great chance to increase Rovers' lead.

A strong run by Evans saw the Northern Ireland international feed the Welshman who skipped into the area but he put his effort over the bar.

The 1500 Rovers fans were the ones making most of the noise and 14 minutes from time Paul Lambert's side finally got the third goal that their excellent display deserved.

The movement of Jackson had proved to be thorn in Oxford's side all afternoon and another quick turn saw the the January signing brought to the ground.

Marshall stepped up 20-yards out, and like his penalty some 40 minutes earlier, he made no mistake as the ball nestled into the bottom corner of the net.

With the wind knocked out of the home side's sails Rovers could have grabbed further goals.

The lively Jackson stung the palms of Slocombe with a near-post shot before the Canadian showed good awareness to head a centre goalwards but it flashed over the bar.

Having knocked out Swansea City in the previous round, this could have been a tricky tie for last season's quarter-finalists, but they turned in a thoroughly professional display to deserve their place in Sunday's fifth round draw.

OXFORD: Slocombe, Baldock (sub Kenny 86 mins), Skarz (sub Evans 77 mins), Roofe, Mullins, Wright (c), Sercombe, MacDonald, O'Dowda, Lundstram, Bowery (sub Hylton 63 mins).

Subs not used: Buchel (GK), Ruffles, Ashby, Dunkley.

Goals: None.

Booked: Mullins, Baldock, Kenny.

ROVERS: Steele, Marshall, Ward, Hanley (c), Spurr, Bennett, Lenihan (sub Taylor 71 mins), Evans, Conway, Watt (sub Lawrence 61 mins), Jackson.

Subs not used: Raya (GK), Henley, Kilgallon, Duffy.

Goals: Marshall (pen) 36, 76 mins. Watt 45+2 mins.

Booked: Spurr, Jackson, Lenihan, Conway.

Attendance: 11,647 (including 1,485 Rovers fans)

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