Bristol Rovers v Oxford - Sunday 3pm
In a midweek EFL Cup programme flooded with squad rotation, Oxford and Bristol Rovers made just two changes between them, both winning 1-0 with late extra-time goals against Championship opposition. Given those exertions and the mutual familiarity - the two teams were promoted together from League Two last season - the draw looks like a confident play at 12/5 here.
For Michael Appleton, the continuity of his team selection merely highlights the heavy emphasis he places on rhythm and momentum. “Interestingly, (the sport science department) tried to persuade me about resting one or two players,” he said. “I think I just gave them a look and they got their answer. It was put to bed pretty quickly.”
A feisty contest is being predicted. Both fixtures last season were played in lively atmosphere, both ending in away wins to the delight of large travelling contingents. But the margins were fine on both occasions, with nearly all of the goalmouth action confined to the second period and a supplementary wager on the Draw/Draw half-time/full-time outcome at 17/4 is also advised.
The U’s benefit from an extra two days’ rest, on which basis they should really avoid defeat. However, Kemar Roofe settled the game at the Memorial 12 months ago with a wonder strike from distance. He departed for Leeds in the summer and it’s unclear who else in Appleton’s ranks, under these circumstances, could deliver such a moment of individual brilliance.