|Nationwide League Division 3||
|11th November 2000|
|Rob Wheldon at Field Mill|
Stags were without suspended midfielder Mark Blake but were boosted by the return of Michael Boulding who replaced Danny Bacon in attack. Hicks also came back into the side after suspension leaving Bobby Hassell to fill the central midfield role vacated by Blake. A few familiar faces were in ex-Stags boss Steve Parkin's third placed side, Tony Ford (nearing his 100th birthday) played wide on the right whilst local lad Mark Monington was at centre half. Pushing the average age of the Dale line-up further was veteran striker Tony Ellis, who in his time has netted on several occasions against the Stags.
On a very heavy pitch the visitors started brightly but the impeccable handling of Bobby Mimms kept the danger to a minimum. Hill's free kick was the closest the visitors came to opening the scoring but Mimms saved comfortably down to his left. Stags fans thought the home side had taken the lead on 10 minutes when Greenacre headed home a perfect Corden cross only to be denied by an off-side flag. Moments later Boulding was impeded and Clarke's free kick was almost met by Hicks but Dale keeper Edwards, despite being a dwarf in keeping terms, claimed the ball well. For the first time in the match the Stags were now exerting some pressure on Edwards' goal, Clarke fired wide from 25 yards and Boulding's 20 yard effort was palmed out for a corner by the Dale keeper, though in truth the ball was going wide anyway. However, all the Stags good work was undone by yet another diabolical refereeing decision. Robinson was adjudged to have fouled Oliver inside the box, but the Dale players dying swan impression was pure theatre, going down in installments after the lightest of touches by the Stags skipper. To the delight of the earlier incensed home support Mimms produced a terrific save down to his left from Jones' penalty - certainly justice was done. Hassell then tested Edwards from range, the keeper unable to hold the young Stags midfielders 20 yard effort but good defending by Evans denied Boulding any chance of tapping home the rebound. Fortune then appeared to be held in the box by Platt though the referee waved play on, then moments later Greenacre had the ball in the net once more, this time the official was correct in disallowing the goal for a push on Edwards. Hassell was then booked for retaliation after handbags in the midfield. Ellis then tested Mimms from distance, the Stags keeper palming the ball over the top and then collecting a dangerous Ford corner kick.
Dale again began much the stronger of the two sides, and again many of their efforts at goal were from 20 yards or more. A Dale corner from the left gave the first threat on the Stags goal, Greenacre headed his clearance straight to Hill and as the Dale midfielder was about to strike at goal Corden nipped in with a timely challenge. As Dale threatened the Stags defensive line held firm, Fortune and Platt were having a terrific battle, the Stags player narrowly coming out on top but probably would never have had a more difficult match in his short career. On the hour the inevitable substitution of 41-year-old Ford happened, replaced by Hadland. Stags almost snatched a break-away goal, the excellent Corden split the Dale defence to find Boulding, for once not off-side, but sadly the Stags strikers first touch took the ball too close to Edwards who claimed well. Dale continued on the attack as first Hill then Ellis had long range efforts at goal and then Monington powerfully headed a Dale corner over the bar. Stags boss Bill Dearden then made a brave bid to claim the points, taking off left back David Jervis and right winger Lee Williams and bringing on striker Danny Bacon and midfielder Lee Williamson, switching the formation to 3-4-3. With the game now quite untidy both sides failed to create any real chances, nice play between Ellis and Platt was well cleared up by Hicks. Stags were hit by an injury to Hicks, though the defender appeared to have recovered after treatment he was replaced by John Andrews in the heart of the Stags defence. With just two minutes on the clock the Stags snatched a dramatic late winner. Chris Greenacre latched on to a defensive lapse and fired the ball past Edwards for his 11th goal of the season. Stags had to defend late Dale pressure but once again both Fortune and Robinson coped well with what was thrown at them. Much jubilation in the home stands at the final whistle, celebration of the Stags first league victory in 6 games.
After the game Bill Dearden was full of praise for Bobby Mimms' performance, but again was very unhappy at the penalty decision. He also offered praise to a Dale side who were perhaps unfortunate not to get a point from the game. Steve Parkin rued his side's wasted opportunities and also mentioned the stick he received from the home fans, though he was gracious enough to congratulate his friend Bill Dearden on the victory. Overall the result is more important than the performance and these three points were absolutely critical if the Stags are to have any chance of making the end of season play-offs. Some good performances in a tough and physical battle, notably Wayne Corden shone when in possession and Bobby Hassell looked very comfortable in the defensive midfield role. However, for the fine penalty save and impeccable handling throughout Bobby Mimms was my Man of the Match.
Man of the Match: Bobby Mimms
|Mimms||9||Terrific penalty save and fine handling on a difficult surface|
|Robinson||7||Defended well throughout|
|Fortune||7||Had a great battle with Platt, which he just about won|
|Hicks||6||Rusty to begin with but soon sharpened up|
|Jervis||6||Looked as composed as ever but gave the ball away too often|
|Williams||7||Had a better game than of late|
|Corden||8||Looked great when in possession|
|Hassell||8||Battled for everything and used the ball well|
|Clarke||6||Out muscled in a tough game but still showed glimpses of his talent|
|Boulding||6||Off-side far too often but his pace still caused problems for Dale|
|Greenacre||7||One real chance, one goal - quiet apart from his goal|
|Not Used: Pemberton, Pilkington|