Half-time: Bristol Rovers frustrate Oxford United during a goalless opening period
A dogged and determined Bristol Rovers are holding Oxford United after a goalless opening period at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon. There wasn't much to choose between the sides in the opening 45 minutes – although Oxford were denied both times ater carving out the best two openings of the half.
Chris Wilder's side enjoyed some neat passages of possession and succession of corner kicks – but failed to ask any real questions of Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall until a 37th minute effort by James Constable from inside the penalty area had to be athletically repelled.
Skipper Tom Parkes was also forced into a goal-denying block at the far post to prevent substitute Alfie Potter from opening the scoring minutes before the end of a keenly-contested opening period.
Rovers, meanwhile, in keeping with recent performances, were dogged and pragmatic in their attempts to work their way into the game. A couple of wayward John-Joe O'Toole shots from distance was the sum total of their attacking parts as their game-plan designed to frustrate their opponents ensured that the scoreline remained goalless as both sides headed down the tunnel for a break.
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Rovers boss John Ward had named an unchanged starting line-up from the one that secured a last-gasp point at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night. Danny Woodards retained his place to maintain some defensive resilience to a five-man midfield ahead of a game at the Kassam Stadium that Ward described earlier this week as a 'difficult' task.
Rovers started the day seeking to extend a recent unbeaten run to five games, while Oxford were looking to return to winning ways following a 1-0 defeat at Southend United last week that served as a setback in their hopes to enter the promotion race over the final stages of the season.
Rovers (4-5-1): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown; Anyinsah, Norburn, Clucas, O'Toole, Woodards; Brunt. Subs: Clarkson, Richards, Broghammer, Harrison, Gough, McDonald, Hitchcock.
Oxford United (4-3-3): McCormick; Batt, Raynes, Wright, Davis; Chapman, Montrose, Capaldi; Rigg, Constable, Richards (Potter, 35). Subs: Smalley, Whing, Worley, O'Brien, Parker, Crocombe.