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Season 13/14 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
3 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Hogan 5, 50, Lund, 12.
Attendance: 2671 (293 from Mansfield)
Date: 26 December 2013


Martin Shaw at Spotland

Mansfield Town turned in a clueless and embarrassing performance at promotion-chasing Rochdale on Boxing Day to go down to a thumping 3-0 defeat. The Stags had no quality going forward, while there was slack marking at the back and far too many crosses allowed in to the middle. The game was as good as over as a contest after just 12 minutes with Rochdale 2-0 ahead. Mansfield showed little fight and no quality after that. The players look completely shot of confidence and it is not easy to see where the next win is going to come from. The gut-wrenching late defeat to Accrington on Saturday looks to have been the final straw for confidence at the club and could end up having far-reaching consequences.

The Stags are now 13 league games (and 3 months) without a win, having taken just four points in the process. One more winless game, at Cheltenham on Sunday, and the Stags will have equalled the club record of 14 games without a win, set in March-September 2000. The Stags are just one point above the dreaded drop zone. John Radford must be thinking whether or not he should sack Paul Cox. Whether he does or not, today’s performance showed, once again, that Mansfield need to add quality to the squad in the January transfer window. In my own opinion, I would give Cox a few games to turn it around. This is a results business. If the Stags fail to beat Cheltenham and Burton, then we probably will be in the relegation zone, and during 2013, we will have set the club record of 12 consecutive victories and then broken the club record for games without a win on the first day of 2014. I think the record of Paul Cox during his first two seasons (comfortably the best of any manager in the Stags history) means he should get until early to mid January. But if the Stags cannot turn the run around, then something would have to change in my opinion. John Radford remained loyal to Cox in the first half of last season when some fans wanted him sacked, and we should all be grateful to Radford for doing that as we went on to get promoted. But how long can he now give his manager?

Cox made four changes from the side that lost to Accrington. Beevers, Clements, Howell and Palmer came in for Jennings, Sutton, McGuire and Stevenson. None of the changes were enforced. It was billed as a 4-3-3 formation with Beevers at left back, Murray, Clements and Howell in the middle, and Dyer, Palmer and Andrew up front. In practice, it was 4-5-1, with Palmer on his own up front, and Dyer on the right and Andrew on the left of a 5 man midfield.

Too many changes are being made to the side in my opinion. Four today, and five for the Accrington game last Saturday, is too many. It smacks of desperation. And too many changes of formation, such that the players don’t seem to understand or look comfortable where they are playing.

Rochdale included former Stag Peter Vincenti, who went on to have a decent game. Dale also had a debutant in goal, Robbie Thomson, but tellingly, Mansfield didn’t test him once in the 90 minutes.

Rochdale were ahead on 5 minutes. A long ball from the back, played in Cummings down the left, Westlake was nowhere to be seen, McCombe couldn’t prevent the cross coming in, and Hogan outjumped Riley and Howell to head into the top left corner, basically unchallenged.

On 8 minutes, Dyer fed Palmer whose shot from a tight angle on the right was never on target. Moments later, Dyer gave the ball away and Rochdale broke but it didn’t come to anything. Then a misplaced pass from Howell and the Stags were already all over the place.

It was 2-0 on 12 minutes. Beevers gave Vincente far too much space to cross low from the right, across the face of goal, and Westlake allowed Lund to slide the ball home at the left post.

On 14 minutes, Howell was lucky to escape a yellow card for a very mistimed tackle. On 16 minutes, a corner by Clements was missed by the debutante keeper Thomson but Rochdale were able to clear. A minute later, Westlake found Palmer and Palmer was penalised for controlling with his hand but fired wide anyway. Soon afterwards, Dyer gave the ball away again but was rescued by Murray. Moments later, Beevers also gave the ball away needlessly. On 24 minutes, a dreadful backpass by McCombe but Marriott just got there in time.

There was no quality at all from the Stags.

On 28 minutes, Howell broke into the box but never got the ball under control and the ball was cleared. On 30 minutes, Henderson cut inside from the left and fired just over the bar. On 33 minutes, Andrew broke on the right, played the ball back to Dyer whose shot was blocked. The ball eventually came to Beevers on the left who crossed into the middle and Palmer headed well wide. It was the first decent chance for the Stags and brought ironic cheers from the Stags fans. In truth, it was a disappointing header from Palmer. The Stags soon got a free kick in a good position on the right but Clements didn’t beat the first man.

On 44 minutes, a cross from the left by Rose, and Cummings headed well wide. On 45+1, Rafferty floated a cross from the right to Cummings, completely unmarked on the left, who volleyed well wide. But where was the marking?

A really poor half from Mansfield, just no quality at all going forward and slack marking at the back as well as not stopping the crosses coming in. The performance gave no optimism for the second half.

Half time 2-0

Unbelievably, the Stags started the second half with ten men as Palmer was late coming out and missed the first 25 seconds of the half. It was shambolic and summed up the Stags day so far.

On 49 minutes, Hogan glided past Riley, and Marriott was out quickly to make a great save from Henderson. The loose ball was stabbed goalwards and blocked on the line by Westlake.

It was 3-0 on 50 minutes. Following a corner, Rose crossed from the left, and Hogan nipped in front of Andrew to tuck the ball past Marriott from close range.

Meikle immediately replaced Dyer, as the Stags moved to a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Meikle and Andrew on either side of midfield, and Howell behind Palmer.

On 51 minutes, Meikle brought down a Rochdale player on the edge of the box and picked up a yellow card just a minute after coming on. The resulting free kick from Lund was straight at Marriott.

Shortly afterwards, a corner from Clements again didn’t beat the first man. On 58 minutes, a great ball in from Rose and Hogan’s effort was saved by Marriott. A good tackle by McCombe shortly afterwards while just afterwards his central defensive partner Riley was turned again but the attack came to nothing.

On 69 minutes, Cummings was through on goal but Westlake made a great last ditch tackle. On 71 minutes, Henderson got to the byline but Marriott blocked his cross and after a scramble, the ball went out for a goal kick. A minute later, Beevers gave the ball away again and was lucky to get away with it.

Rochdale were playing flowing football, so much better than Mansfield.

On 74 minutes, Daniel replaced Palmer. On 77 minutes, a cross from Howell was so bad, I didn’t know how to describe it.

On 79 minutes, at last, a good move from the Stags ended with Westlake getting in behind the full back but his cross was put behind for a corner which came to nothing.

There were no more chances for either side but Rochdale continued to knock the ball around well, in contrast to the Stags who were just awful.

Man of the match: Marriott/Murray/Palmer - the only players who weren’t really poor.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Spotland

Line Up:
Marriott 6 Couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals. Made a couple of very good saves.
Westlake 4.5 Was given a torrid afternoon by the impressive Michael Rose. Allowed Lund to slide the second goal home at the far post. Made one great last ditch tackle in the second half.
Riley 4.5 Very poor. Beaten for pace, and turned in the second half. Outjumped for the first goal.
McCombe 4.5 Very poor. Terrible backpass to Marriott in the first half, that Marriott just cleared. One good tackle.
Beevers 4 Terrible. Gave Vincente far too much space to cross for the second goal and that set the tone for the afternoon. Gave the ball away far too many times. Very poor distribution.
Dyer 5 Just looked so out of place again on the right of midfield. Gave ball away early on a few times, and once Rochdale broke but couldn’t capitalise.
Murray 6 The pick of the midfield.
Clements 5 Quality from set pieces was dreadful. For example, free kick hitting the first defender, and poor corners.
Howell 4 Very poor. Very lucky to escape a yellow early on for a terribly mistimed tackle. Outjumped for the first goal. One cross in the second half was so bad I just shook my head.
Andrew 4 Poor touch all game. But why was he playing on the left side of midfield almost all game? Beaten to the ball by Hogan for the third goal.
Palmer 6 Worked very hard all game, but continually having to chase lost causes. The second half started without him, which I have never seen happen before in any level of football.
Sub Line Up:
Meikle (for Dyer, 50) 5 Picked up yellow card within a minute of coming on for a silly challenge on the edge of his own box. Didn’t influence the game.
Daniel (for Palmer, 74) -
Subs not used: Deakin, Sutton, McGuire, Stevenson, Briscoe.
Opposition Line Up:
Thomson; Rafferty, Cavanagh, Rose; Lancashire, Vincenti, Lund, O’Connell, Henderson; Cummins, Hogan (Bunney, 82). Subs not used: Collis, Bennett, Eastham, Hery, Done, Allen.
Mark Haywood 5 Poor game, but no major decisions to make.

Season 13/14 Reports