The Keepmoat Stadium was bathed in brilliant sunshine for the visit of Oxford United. The first half somewhat mirrored the lower table position of the two teams as there was plenty of promise from both camps, but also a distinct lack of quality in the final third. Couple that with a rather whistle-happy referee, and it all led to a pretty frustrating half.
Chances for Alfie May and John Marquis were saved well from the visiting keeper Simon Eastwood. However, it was clear to see that Rovers were missing the flair and vision of James Coppinger, Tommy Rowe and Alfie Beestin – the trio absent due to a combination of squad rotation and injury.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first, as Rovers applied much of the pressure but had nothing to show for it. Though that could have been different had the assistant referee’s flag not been raised as Marquis tapped in from an offside position. Then, on the 63rd minute, after absorbing a period of condensed pressure from Rovers, Oxford delivered their one really decent cross into the box of the game, straight onto the head of substitute James Henry who finished well.
Rovers continued to press, with Eastwood again brilliantly tipping over a Marquis attempt. Darren Ferguson introduced both Alex Kiwomya and Andy Williams – the latter back after what seemed a lifetime away – to try to give more in attack in order to create that needed chance, but it was to no avail.
by Adam Bates