Saturday 2nd February 2002 - Kick-off 3pm
Nationwide League Division 3
Attendance: 4, 876 (549 from Dale)
The Stags were again without Craig Disley and skipper Les Robinson for the visit of Rochdale and so the same eleven which drew with Kidderminster in midweek took to the field. There was one change on the bench with new signing David Kelly coming in for Andy White. Shayne Bradley, playing his last game before a 2 match ban, partnered Chris Greenacre in attack. Dale were without injured striker Connor and suspended defender Griffiths. Former Stags centre half Simon Coleman replaced Griffiths in the heart of the Dale defence. A heavy deluge just before kick off made the surface extremely heavy.
The Stags began brightly and took early control, despite the surface playing the high tempo football the side are renowned for. Greenacre was first to have a go, firing over from Corden's pass. On ten minutes the Stags again poured forward and this time Bradley saw his effort cleared off the line. Not long after the Stags had yet another effort cleared off the line, this time Banks saved a Pemberton shot and Greenacre's close range shot from the follow-up seemed certain to be going in when Evans managed to get some part of his body in the way. At this early stage Stags fans must have been thinking it wasn't to be their day. Pilkington, a virtual spectator at the other end, had his first moment of action as late as the 20th minute when Doughty fired a shot straight at him, though a minute later the Stags defence was almost caught square when the pacey Townson broke through only to be stopped by the Assistant's flag, must have been a close decision. Eventually the Stags took a deserved lead on 37 minutes. Pemberton, having an excellent half broke free on the left and put in a neat cross which an unmarked Greenacre fired goalwards, Dale keeper Banks seemed to have saved the shot but the ball spun off his body and over the line. To be honest Greenacre should have given the keeper no chance but the goal was no more than the Stags deserved. A minute later things got even better for the home side and what a great goal it was. Bradley, played on side by the Dale left back on our side, was put clear on the left, he got into the area and put across a perfect ball which Pemberton finished neatly. The game should have been made completely safe on the half time whistle when Bradley again broke through, rounded keeper Banks but was force too wide and hit his shot into the side-netting.
Half Time 2-0
Either the Stags took their foot off the gas a little or Dale upped their pace but the visitors certainly dominated the opening 15 minutes of the 2nd half, Townson a particular menace to the Stags defence. However, with Reddington and Barrett simply superb, keeper Pilkington was never troubled. Bradley again did well in possession, taking control of a Lawrence pass inside the area and volleyed just wide. Townson then broke through the off-side trap but was pushed wide by Barrett and fired his shot well over. On 57 minutes Townson again had a chance after the ball fell to him on the far post after a right wing free kick - however, Reddington was again in the right place and put the ball out for a corner. Another scramble in the Stags area from the corner saw Flitcroft head the ball straight at Pilkington. Barrett again made a great last ditch challenge on Townson thought seemed to be injured in the process, however, the defender bravely got up and carried on without any treatment. A deep cross from the Dale left saw Townson again force an attempt on goal, this time his header was easy for the Stags keeper. The Stags clearly needed the safety of the 3rd goal with Dale piling on the pressure. Another dangerous moment saw Platt head the ball across the Stags area only for Oliver to blaze over. In a rare Stags attack Corden beat two players and put in a perfect cross, sadly no Stags player was on hand to finish and the ball was put out for a corner. Dale made a very strange switch on 68 minutes, replacing the very dangerous Townson with McEvilly - clearly the Dale fans were not impressed, frankly the Stags defenders would have been!! David Kelly was introduced on 72 minutes and marked his first touch with a neat back heel which Greenacre just failed to take advantage of. The Stags were at last coming to grips with the game and Williamson put in a terrific right wing cross which was cut out just before Corden could apply the finish. A very marginal offside against Greenacre prevented Kelly opening his Stags scoring account as the Stags went in search of the vital 3rd goal with Dale still looking threatening at the other end. Platt volleyed over after beating Pilkington to a headed through ball but on 86 minutes the game was made safe, and it was the prolific Greenacre who settled Stags fans nerves. He raced on to a perfect Pemberton pass and calmly side-footed the ball past Banks into the keepers left hand corner, the strikers 24th of the season. Dale grabbed a deserved consolation, Oliver finishing McCourts left wing cross.
So a great three points which moves the Stags clear in 3rd place, some 4 points above Hull with two games in hand and 5 above Dale with a game in hand. Despite the poor surface and heavy rain the Stags played some great football in the first half, at the high tempo other sides have found hard to counter. Whether it was the improvement from Dale or the Stags sitting back that high tempo was missing for the opening 20 minutes of the 2nd half and Dale came back strongly. It was during this spell that Stags centre halves Barrett and Reddington really earned their money with towering displays. Martin Pemberton is also looking more and more comfortable in the centre of midfield and was involved in all three goals. Man of the Match is very difficult and is a choice between those three, Reddington won almost everything in the air and Pemberton broke forwards to great effect, however, for some great tackling and bringing the ball out of defence several times, Adam Barrett wins the award.
Man of the Match: Adam Barrett
Report by Rob Wheldon
|Pilkington||7||More solid work from the keeper|
|Hassell||8||Another great display by Hassell|
|Tankard||7||Solid defensively, perhaps could have scored with a great chance 2nd half.|
|Barrett||9||He and Reddington were outstanding - making a great partnership.|
|Reddington||9||Like central defensive partner Barrett was outstanding, especially in the air.|
|Lawrence||7||Neat enough in possession but not the sort of surface to suit his style.|
|Corden||7||Like Lawrence, the surface didn't always suit him but some good runs nevertheless.|
|Pemberton||9||Another terrific game from Pembo, driving force in midfield.|
|Williamson||7||Some good passing and competed well.|
|Greenacre||8||Quiet yet scored twice, the 2nd a great finish.|
|Bradley||7||Much better from Shayne, though missed a good chance at the end of the 1st half.|
|Kelly||6||(for Bradley, 72) Looked lively.|
|Asher||6||(for Lawrence, 78) Gave the right side a very solid defensive look.|
|Bacon||6||(for Greenacre, 90) Almost snatched a late goal.|
|Subs Not Used: Bingham, Jervis.|
|Your vote Man of the Match (Total 155 votes)||Pemberton 34%||Reddington 29%||Barrett 16%|