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REPORT | Oxford United 1 Rovers 1

30 April 2022

A spectacular strike from Josh Martin ensured Rovers closed out the season with a 1-1 draw at Oxford United.

The winger smashed in a shot from 20 yards to cancel out Billy Bodin’s opener for the U’s in a competitive final outing of the campaign.

Gary McSheffrey named an unchanged starting XI for the final day clash, with the only change to the matchday 18 seeing Mipo Odubeko taking a place on the bench.

It was the hosts who probed early but the Rovers defence stood up to the pressure soundly.

Cameron Branagan had Oxford’s first real opportunity when he raced in to meet a Ryan Williams cross but lifted the ball over the bar.

Joseph Olowu popped up with a header to draw a save from Jack Stevens as Rovers began to have more of a say in attacking terms.

They moved the ball well out of midfield, with some fine interplay and put the hosts on the back foot.

Matt Smith showed a strong desire to mark likely his final appearance for Rovers with his first goal for the club but could not hit the target from the edge of the box midway through the half.

But it was Oxford who found the opener. Matty Taylor was afforded plenty of space on the left and drilled a shot which Jonathan Mitchell tipped away, but only as far as Bodin who chested in from close range.

Rovers almost levelled quickly when Oxford defender Jamees Golding attempted to flick the ball away from danger, only to force a superb save from his own keeper.

Kyle Knoyle found himself in alien territory on the left of the box and weaved his way in front of goal before he squared only to see the pass cut out.

Mitchell needed to be alert early in the second half to get behind a low drive from Branagan that threatened his near post.

But Rovers were soon back on the front foot as they searched for a route back into the game.

Martin carried the ball from inside his own half and laid off to Jackson, who saw his shot saved by Stevens.

Mitchell was alert to keep out Taylor after a good ball in from Ryan Williams.

Rovers forced danger with more good play down the left but Oxford keeper Stevens got in ahead of the forwards in meeting a low centre from Jackson.

Much of the threat came from the Rovers left and Jackson sent over a tantalising cross which was headed wide by substitute Odubeko.

But Rovers found the leveller in spectacular fashion on 67 minutes.

Clayton played a short corner which Martin collected before moving into space and smashing a shot home from 20 yards.

Rovers looked the most likely to win in the later stages but were denied a pair of golden opportunities due to mix up between attacking players.

Jackson needed to be alert to hook a Golding strike off the line, ensuring a share of the spoils.

The result confirmed Rovers’ relegation from Sky Bet League One.

Oxford: Stevens, McNally, Long, Golding, Williams (O’Donkor 77), McGuane, Brannagan, Seddon, Bodin, Taylor, Browne (Whyte 62). Subs not used: Eastwood, Brown, Forde, Mousinho, Holland.

Rovers: Mitchell, Knoyle, Williams, Olowu, Jackson, Smith (Gardner 85), Bostock, Clayton, Martin, Dodoo, Griffiths (Odubeko 58). Subs not used: Jones, Younger, John, Barlow, Galbraith.


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