Oxford United's unbeaten run stretched to eight games with another convincing win this afternoon. Two goals from top scorer James Henry and a Cameron Brannagan strike earned the U's a 3-0 win over Doncaster in another thoroughly enjoyable performance that saw United close the gap on the play-off places.
With Matty Taylor ruled out through sickness, United kicked off in a 4-1-4-1 shape with Alex Gorrin and Jamie Mackie the Ones. Last seen at Lincoln when United won 6-0, the shape clearly suits them and meant some slick pass-and-move football from the very start against a Rovers side who are also a good football side, which led to an interesting technical encounter between two very well-drilled teams.
There were a couple of half chances, nothing more, at first with an off-balance Mackie steering the ball into the gloves of keeper Seny Dieng from close range, but lengthy treatment for Mark Sykes and Simon Eastwood half way through the half saw the early rhythm just miss a step until Tariqe Fosu started to set his sights with one which flew over the fence and then a 33rd-minute curling effort which beat the diving Dieng but clipped the outside of the right-hand post.
Sykes was in the wars and ended the half with a bandaged head after a clash of heads - but as soon as we went into the six added minutes for all of those stoppages, Henry finally found a way to reward his side for a very professional first half. In truth, Doncaster might have been quicker to close him down but, having invited him to shoot, Henry let fly with an unstoppable effort which left Dieng sprawling and United a goal up at the break.
It took less than 90 seconds for them to double that lead after the break. Fosu, who had the beating of his man all day, started it on the left and then the bandaged and bruised Sykes carried the ball foward but saw his shot blocked. NO matter. Cadden, always eager to join the attack, recycled it and squared for Brannagan who sidefooted home from around the penalty spot.
Now in control of the game, United roared forward with Gorrin knitting things together and allowing those further forward to play some terrific football, with Branagan at the centre of everything and Fosu running his defender ragged.
All the same, it took one magnificent moment from skipper John Mousinho to deny Doncaster a goal and the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game after going 2-0 down and withstanding United's second-half onslaught. But on 78 it was game over as Henry sealed the win from the penalty spot. It came when Baptiste's clipped cross struck a defender's arm inside the box; no complaints from Rovers and another goal for Henry.
Doncaster were beaten but had played well without really threatening Eastwood's goal too many times. United meanwhile pick up three more goals, three more points, another clean sheet and continue to play some superb football.
What's not to like?
See you at Rotherham.
Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA