Oxford United 3 Doncaster Rovers 0: Unbeaten away record ended in emphatic fashion

Doncaster Rovers turned in comfortably their poorest performance of the season so far as their Oxford United hoodoo continued.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 6:03 pm
Oxford United v Doncaster Rovers

Oxford has never been a happy hunting ground for Rovers and never looked like being on this occasion as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the Kassam Stadium which ended their unbeaten away run.

A brace from James Henry - one of which came from the penalty spot - plus a Cameron Brannagan strike gave Oxford a comfortable win which they roundly deserved.

Rovers were disjointed, nervous and lacking the cohesion and crispness that has been their trademark throughout their impressive start to the season.

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They are left counting the cost of a second consecutive league defeat - one which ensured they have won just once in seven in all competitions.

Darren Moore made one change to the side that was beaten by Portsmouth the previous week, with Kwame Thomas handed his first league start as expected. Niall Ennis returned from his hamstring injury for a place on the bench.

Rovers strung together a wonderful, swift passing move inside the first minute but their ability to do so again was hampered by close attention from the hosts.

The sitting midfielders were tracked as they looked to receive passes out from the back while the two full backs were immediately pounced upon whenever taking possession.

It was something Rovers struggled to deal with throughout the first half which ensured much of it was spent on the back foot.

Seny Dieng was forced into a brave punch away as a cross neared Jamie Mackie. Oxford die very well finding space in wide areas from which to get balls into the box.

Mackie pounced on an attempt from Reece James to knock down the ball for a clearance, stabbing a shot straight at a grateful Dieng.

Rovers grew into the game and finally began to produce some play in the opposition half where they found more space but again struggled for threat from inside the box.

Cameron Brannagan drilled well wide at the other end before Tarique Fosu twisted and turned and fired well over as Oxford grew in confidence.

Fosu was perhaps finding his range as with the next attempt he curled a fine effort beyond Dieng only to see it clip the outside of the post.

The manner in which Rovers were unsettled at the back almost cost them as they were caught in possession, allowing Henry to smash a low effort just wide from 20 yards.

Opportunities for Rovers were rare but they went particularly close on the stroke of half time when Brad Halliday drilled in a low ball which Kieran Sadlier met first time, only to turn his effort narrowly over.

As the clock ticked into first half stoppage time, Oxford got their reward.

Henry was picked out in plenty of space, 25 yards out and smashed a shot into the top corner.

Rovers made a bright start to the second half and went close when Tom Anderson met a James Coppinger corner but turned it narrowly wide.

It was a miss they would rue however as Oxford doubled their lead on 47 minutes.

Mark Sykes saw a shot blocked, with the ball recycled out to Chris Cadden. He zipped in a low pass which Brannagan met first time to slot into the bottom corner from 15 yards.

Rovers arguably should have had a goal back almost immediately. Reece James delivered a wonderful ball across the Oxford goal which Thomas met six yards out only to see his effort deflect narrowly over.

Moore sent on Ennis for Thomas with the on-loan Wolves man showing immediate threat as he slammed wide from the edge of the box from a Sadlier lay-off.

Matters got worse for Rovers in the final quarter hour when Oxford were awarded a penalty after a cross from susbstitute Shandon Baptiste was adjudged to have been handled by Tom Anderson.

Dieng got a hand to Herny's spot kick but could not keep the strike out.

OXFORD: Eastwood; Cadden, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffles; Gorrin; Sykes (Baptiste 68), Henry, Brannagan, Fosu (Hall 79); Mackie (Agyei 87). Subs not used: Stevens, Moore, Long.

ROVERS: Dieng; Halliday, Anderson, Daniels, James; Sheaf, Whiteman; Sadlier, Coppinger, Taylor; Thomas (Ennis 64). Subs: Lawlor, Wright, Greaves, Gomes, Kiwomya, May.

REFEREE: Sebastian Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear)

ATTENDANCE: 6,891 (491 away)