Cold, wet, windy, totally out of form and having to face promotion-chasing Oxford orchestrated by former Rovers hero Herbie Kane. It felt like a daunting night in prospect.
Gary McSheffrey rang the changes, dropping Jordy Hiwula and Joe Dodoo after the suggestion the pair offered little energy against Mansfield. Yet the first half went according to the script with Oxford dominating the ball and taking an early lead. The visitors should really have added more goals to their tally but poor finishing and an inability for their forwards to stay onside let them down.
After the break McSheffrey introduced Hiwula and Dodoo to the game, and for large parts managed to press higher up the pitch. The return of Omar Bogle, back from the cold, had a near instant impact as he played a part in Rovers equaliser through Branden Horton. Rovers worked tirelessly – although lacking real quality – and it appeared we may steal an unlikely point from one the division’s strongest teams… only for that hope to be snatched away two minutes from time.
Although another defeat was chalked up, we certainly displayed in the second half that we can potentially take points from teams around us, and with three goals in two games under Mcsheffrey there’s definitely been a change in style to get up the pitch higher.
With Joseph Olowu returning for the Shrewsbury game and Tommy Rowe back in the familiar midfield we have a chance to take some much needed points.