Bristol Rovers manager John Ward saluted his team for their battling qualities as they won 2-0 at the Kassam Stadium.

The Pirates have lost just once in eight games since Ward took charge before Christmas. This victory avenged a 2-0 win by Oxford United at the Memorial Stadium at the start of the season and pushed Rovers further clear of relegation danger.

Lee Brown's penalty 10 minutes into the second half, and a second goal deep into stoppage time by substitute Eliot Richards did the trick. Ward said: "It was an exceptionally hard game for us, our third game in the week, and on a pitch that was massively heavy.

"We had to battle our way through this one. We are keeping our nerve under pressure, collectively and individually, and it just shows what winning matches can do for your confidence.

"We've defended stoutly, as we've had to, and the second goal was quick thinking and some very good play. It's happening nicely for us at the moment and we're enjoying it. But after these three games in a week, the boys badly need a break and a breather now, and we'll allow that to happen."

Oxford manager Chris Wilder is fed up with saying the same thing week after week. Defeat means the U's have taken just one point from a possible 12 over the past fortnight, and their play-off hopes are disappearing fast.

Wilder said: "We had the best chances of the game but haven't taken them. It's just as disappointing as last week when we lost at Southend.

"In a tight first half we had the best chances, and I thought we started the second half really well. It's just a bit of quality in and around the final third that is the difference. And that's the difference between players staying here and players moving on.

"We dominated that game but I can't keep saying that. It's the big moments we're not getting right. My skipper (Jake Wright) has held his hand up for the penalty. He's made a bad decision.

"The second goal at the end was because we had six up front and were trying to get an equaliser."