POOR STAGS EASILY BEATEN BY IMPRESSIVE DALE
Rochdale 3 - 0 Mansfield Town
Jones (pen) 12, Connor 27, Bertos 54.
Attendance: 3157 (938 from Mansfield)
Pilkington, Hassell, Day, Dimech, Buxton, Larkin, Lawrence, Williamson, Corden, Pacquette, Mendes
Subs: MacKenzie (for Larkin, 45)
Christie (for Corden, 45)
Disley (for Mendes, 86)
Subs not used: JWhite, Artell.
Match Statistics (Dale/Stags)
16 Goal Attempts 9
11 On target 5
5 Off target 4
0 Woodwork 0
10 Corners 7
8 Fouls 11
6 Offside 6
Stags flop at Rochdale
A POOR display from Mansfield Town saw them crash to a 3-0 defeat at struggling Rochdale this afternoon.
Lee Williamson missed an early chance for the visitors. But the rest of the afternoon was as bleak as the winter weather in the Lancashire hills as former Stags boss Steve Parkin saw his charges boss the game from start to finish.
Rochdale hadn't won in four games. But they showed far more urgency than the visitors and but for some wayward finishing and a string of fine saves from keeper Kevin Pilkington, it could have been a far bigger hiding.
Mansfield arrived with some pride in achieving clean sheets in five of their previous seven League games.
But the back four looked more like strangers this afternoon as they were torn apart and caught out of position by the hungry home side.
However, it wasn't just the defence as the midfield were out-fought and the strikers, including debut-making Richard Pacquette, had few opportunities.
"That was a horrible and unacceptable performance," said Mansfield boss Keith Curle.
"Their goals were all down to basic defending. We had a back four who looked like they had never played together and had just been thrown together.
"Sometimes you can afford to have one or two players within a team not firing. But today we had nine or 10 not performing and if Kevin Pilkington had not been at the top of his game in goal it could have been embarrassing.
"There was a lack of urgency to make things happen and we need to get back to basics all over the park.
"I think our lads were hoping Richard would give them a spark on his debut. But it would be difficult for players like Anelka and Henry to come into a team that isn't firing.
"Some fans made their displeasure known and rightly so. It was unacceptable and I have plenty of competition for places here right now."
After 11 days without a game, Stags made three changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Scunthorpe. Debutante Pacquette, Larkin and Williamson were in the starting 11 with Christie and MacKenzie dropped to the bench and Curtis ruled out with a knee injury.
Stags, with Larkin on the right wing, played in yellow shirts and white shorts.
But it was the home side who almost made a superb start with less than two minutes on the watch as Jones let fly from 20 yards, forcing Pilkington to throw himself full length to his left to turn the ball aside.
A minute later the same player had a go from 25 yards but this time was well off target.
Mansfield should have gone in front on six minutes. Mendes battled his way through opponents down the left and strode purposefully into the box before drilling a shot goal wards from a tight angle.
It was blocked but span invitingly into the path of Williamson who, with the goal beckoning, blasted over from 12 yards as Burgess slid in.
Rochdale then drew first blood on 12 minutes from the penalty spot.
A long through ball from Bertos saw Connor race through and he was brought down by Pilkington as he tried to round the keeper.
Pilkington was very fortunate to escape with a booking but could do nothing as Jones sent him the wrong way with a cool spot kick.
A great burst of pace by Bertos down the left saw him take on last man Buxton and cross low towards the waiting Connor. Dimech managed to intercept and was relieved to see it clip his own post and go wide.
Connor shot over from 18 yards while Bertos fired straight at Pilkington from the same range as Rochdale continued to force the pace.
On 21 minutes Corden cut back onto his right foot 20 yards from goal and curled the ball goal wards. It took a deflection off a defender and landed just over on the roof of the net, the referee even awarding a goal kick to add to Corden's misery.
The home side forced two further corners and extended their advantage from the second of them on 27 minutes.
Bertos put the ball over and Holt's goal bound header took a deflection and had crossed the line before the visitors could scramble in clear.
It was almost 3-0 two minutes later. Stags were caught short by a counterattack which saw Connor cleverly leave a low cross from Bertos which left Pilkington at the mercy of McCourt. But his finish from 10 yards was well saved and Stags eventually cleared their lines after a fierce scramble.
Mansfield then might have pulled one back within seconds as Larkin sent in a splendid low cross from the right in front of goal which Mendes just failed to touch home from point blank range.
Williamson was angry at a late challenge from McClare. And when the same player hacked Williamson down shortly after, he was shown a yellow card.
Stags won another corner from the ensuing free kick which Larkin sent over and Buxton met with a header that dropped narrowly wide.
Mendes again wriggled free down the left, evading Evans' tackle before trying to beat the keeper on his near post and seeing his shot saved.
Lawrence almost put through his own net on 39 minutes as he stretched to block a shot from McClare, but Pilkington pulled off a great save to turn it round from under his left angle.
The Mansfield keeper made another good stop to keep out Holt's low shot after Day allowed the Rochdale striker to nip goalside of him.
Pacquette had his first half chance in the final minute of the first half but, after controlling the ball and making space, he fired wide from 20 yards.
Curle made two half-time changes to pep things up with MacKenzie replacing Corden and Christie on for Larkin.
Christie moved up front with Mendes going wide right and Williamson wide left.
Mansfield certainly came out with the bit between their teeth, forcing two quick corners.
But a mistake by Day allowed the ball to run to Connor whe he should have cut it out. He managed to get a powerful low shot away which Pilkington just managed to touch onto the outside of his post for a corner.
That was cleared and Mansfield raced up field where Lawrence forced a good parry from keeper Edwards with his 18-yard right foot blast.
But it was 3-0 on 54 minutes as Dimech conceded a free kick 20 yards from goal in a central position. Bertos took a couple of steps before curling a magnificent free kick into the top right hand corner.
Stags quickly instigated another scramble at the other end which ended with Christie shooting straight at Edwards.
Rochdale's next attack saw Connor poke a low near post cross just wide. Stags replied with a break down the left which saw Christie bundled over by Burgess to earn the Dale man a booking.
Rochdale were back on the offensive on 72 minutes as Bertos evaded Dimech's clumsy lunge and fired goal wards where Pilkington parried.
Lawrence was booked for diving seconds later as he went down too easily in the Rochdale box.
Stags were caught square at the back on 76 minutes and Connor chased the ball down the left. Pilkington started to come out but retreated and just managed to help Connor's low shot into the side netting for a corner.
Stags forced a corner which Burgess backheaded across the face of his own goal and narrowly wide of the far post.
A second corner was cleared but reached Lawrence who curled narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Simpkins replaced McCourt for Rochdale for the last 11 minutes.
Mansfield forced their fifth second half corner on 83 minutes which was headed out to Williamson who guided a low volley tamely wide.
Connor should have added a fourth for the Lancastrians five minutes from time as he reached Bertos' low cross only to blaze over from six yards.
Stags' defence disappeared again a minute later as Holt found himself with only Pilkington to beat from 10 yards but the keeper blocked well.
Stags left the field to a chorus of 'what a load of rubbish' from the away section to round off an awful day.
Press Association report:
After some recent disappointments, Rochdale manager Steve Parkin was ecstatic after this rout of promotion-chasing Mansfield.
"I asked for commitment and got it," said Parkin.
"From the start I knew we were going to win and we could have won by an even greater margin.
"Their goalkeeper made one or two great stops and on another day we could have had half a dozen goals."
Mansfield seldom got a grip on the game, but for a short time after the interval their rearranged ranks gave Rochdale goalkeeper Neil Edwards plenty to think about.
The revival ended when Leo Bertos crashed a free-kick into the back of the Mansfield net with 53 minutes gone. That made it 3-0 and the Stags were left without any hope.
Their troubles started early on when Gary Jones blasted a penalty home after visiting goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington brought down Paul Connor and earned himself a booking.
Dale then took complete control, with Connor getting the second after 27 minutes.
Connor cashed in on a corner kick to which Mansfield offered inadequate cover, firing home when left unmarked at the far post.
The Stags seldom troubled the home defence and their disappointed manager, Keith Curle, admitted: "Our goalkeeper saved us from something worse.
"I am disappointed to say the least. We never used the ball wisely when we had it."