06 October 2020 22:31
21:54 Sam Frost Match report A profligate Bristol Rovers were punished for a late Luke Leahy penalty miss as they drew 1-1 at Oxford United in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday. Leahy had the chance to make sure of the result with spot kick in the final five minutes after Tom Mehew's 12th-minute opener at the Kassam Stadium, but the tame penalty was saved by Jack Stevens and the 27-year-old somehow missed an open goal from the follow-up. Derick Osei Yaw then equalised in the final minute of normal time to force penalties, and misses from Ed Upson and Jack Baldwin saw Oxford claim the bonus point. It will be a bizarre game for Gas boss Ben Garner to digest, with a young and energetic Rovers side creating a long list of chances and dominating throughout, but wastefulness proved costly. Rovers started impressively and created the first flowing move of the game on eight minutes with left-wing-back Leahy raking a diagonal to his right-sided counterpart Sam Nicholson.
He crossed into the middle and it found its way back to Leahy at the far post and he slammed home with conviction from 16 yards, but referee Neil Hare spotted a foul in the build-up. The Gas continued to move the ball with freedom and stretch the Oxford defence, and Garner's men had the lead in the 12th minute. A poorly defended throw in from the right bounced in the box and Mehew pounced, shifting onto his left and striking into Jack Stevens' net from eight yards out. Oxford struggled to subdue Rovers' intensity, with the Gas pressing the ball with vigour and countering at speed, and James Daly, Walker and Mehew had opportunities on the break but couldn't capitalise. At the other end, Jordi van Stappershoef was the recipient of a handful of unthreatening long-range efforts with the Gas defending their box well in the first period.
The pattern of play continued in the second half with Rovers' sprightly young attack swarming forwards on the break. Four minutes into the second period Nicholson broke free after a cute through ball from Daly. The Scot rolled it into the feet of Mehew who nudged it wide to Leahy. His cross-shot found Nicholson at the back post, but Stevens did well to get his body in the way. It was Daly surging forwards two minutes later after stealing possession on halfway, and his cross was en route to Walker at the far post, but Stevens got a toe on it and it fortuitously landed in his lap to collect. Oxford started to show signs of life as the hour mark neared, with Rob Hall drawing a smart save out of van Stappershoef from a 25-yard free kick. Hall had another chance with 20 to play as a cross landed at his feet 12 yards out, but he screwed his effort horribly wide. Oxford remained in the game with Rovers profligate at the other end. Walker's burst in down the right found Daly in the middle but his effort on his weaker right foot was tame. The Gas were gifted a chance to make sure of the win inside the final five minutes as Nico Jones tripped debutant Kieran Phillips in the box, but Leahy's poor penalty was saved by Stevens and his miss from the follow-up – with the goal gaping – was even worse as he dragged it wide. Rovers were made to pay as Osei Yaw headed home Hall's cross in the 89th minute to force penalties for the bonus point. Leahy atoned somewhat for his miss in normal time by scoring in the shootout, but Upson and Baldwin missed from the spot as The Us took the extra point thanks to a 4-3 win on penalties. As a subscriber, you are shown 80% less display advertising when reading our articles. Those ads you do see are predominantly from local businesses promoting local services. These adverts enable local businesses to get in front of their target audience – the local community. It is important that we continue to promote these adverts as our local businesses need as much support as possible during these challenging times. Close