Three first half goals from Oxford United condemned injury-stricken Rovers to another defeat on the road.
Goals from Matty Taylor (2) and Olamide Shodipo within 24 minutes put the home side firmly in control and while Rovers were better second half, they weren’t able to really trouble Jack Stevens in the Us goal.
It was a frantic and even opening 20 with expansive and, on occasions, sloppy passing from both teams leading to end-to-end football.
Rovers registered the first shot of the afternoon when Taylor Richards’ hit the target with just five minutes on the clock, but Rovers played themselves into danger on more than one occasion with Louis Jones making early saves from Matty Taylor and Liam Kelly.
The Us keeper Jack Stevens was also busy making saves a Joe Wright header and Fejiri Okenabirhie – while a second Richards effort needed a good block to take it off target.
On the 19th minute, the hosts took the lead through Taylor – the host’s no.9 pounced on a ricocheting ball in the box after Rovers were unable to deal with a cross from Brandon Barker who had been causing Andy Butler’s men problems on the right.
The goal completely changed the game entirely giving the home side all the momentum and the Us didn’t look back.
Cameron Brannagan could have doubled the U’s lead five minutes later – his effort from distance took a horrible bobble and demanded a decent save by Jones in the end to keep it out. The corner kick delivery also caused problems and it was Danny Amos with the vital touch to take Elliott Moore’s venomous shot away from danger.
At the other end, some nice play around the box was failing to translate into shots with James Coppinger’s shot on the half-hour mark – which might have troubled Stevens if not for a deflection – the only effort of note.
Oxford dominated possession winning corners and free kicks without really troubling the Rovers defence, but they turned the screw five minutes before the break scoring twice in quick succession.
Taylor got his second, heading in from Kelly’s deep free-kick delivery following a foul on Olamide Shodipo and Shodipo got the third minutes later when the ball fell to him and he fired a thunderbolt effort beyond Jones.
Jones was in the action early in the second half with Shodipo the man involved again. His effort was dipping and weaving but the youngster got down well to his right to push it wide and he was needed again to save Brannagan’s effort from distance, and a second effort by Shodipo and another by Barker.
More injury woes for Rovers came when AJ Greaves went off on the hour mark. He was replaced by Madger Gomes while Branden Horton replaced Danny Amos for his league debut. Jason Lokilo also came into the fray in place of Elliot Simoes.
The Belgian winger made an early impact with a dangerous cross across the face of the Us six-yard line but it evaded Okenabirhie and Richards and was cleared. The duo of Lokilo and Okenabirhie almost bore fruit again – this time the no.9s effort was blocked for a corner.
As the games timer ticked down and the game all but won, Rovers were afforded more of the ball. Richards sent a free kick from the edge of the box over the bar, Wright had a header blocked, and Gomes’ stinging effort from range collided with Okenabirhie.
Karl Robinson’s substitute also made an impact – none more so that Dan Agyei – who very nearly put the ball in with his first action of the game dragging his goal just wide of the far post just before Okenabirhie flashed another effort just wide of the far post.
Rovers best chances of the game came later in the game. Gomes forced a decent save from Stevens with five minutes remaining while Rob Atkinson was needed to clear Taylor Richards' effort off the line.