REPORTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES
Football First match report:
By John Lomas
Transcribed by carole
Mansfield just Larkin around:
THEY left it late, but Colin Larkin's seventh goal in seven games pushed in form Mansfield Town into the top four.
The Irish striker is finally coming good after two seasons of injury misery and he was on hand to drill home the winner from 12 yards after Rochdale failed to clear Scott McNiven's cross.
It was a body blow for a Rochdale side that looked to have earned a point and snuffed out a side that had hit 10 goals in their 3 previous games.
But Larkin popped up to make it a miserable return to Field Mill for former manager Steve Parkin who was also furious that a late penalty decision went against his side.
The Stags are now just one point behind Yeovil Town and Wycombe Wanderers, who are second and third respectively, and just two points behind table-topping Scunthorpe United.
Now four games unbeaten, delighted Mansfield manager Keith Curle said: “It's great to have someone like Colin Larkin in your armoury and all the chances are falling for him right now.
“Patience and belief were the key words. There is a belief in that dressing room that we will go out and score goals. The lads really enjoyed that result as they had to work very hard to earn it.
“The crowd stuck with us. It wasn't pretty but they knew we were trying to do the right things.
“We knew Rochdale would come here, be very organised and wouldn't go on the back foot easily.
“They competed for every ball and we had to go toe-to-toe with them and try to play our football when we could.
“We finally got into our stride in the last 15 minutes of the first half and I just told them to carry it on in the second half.”
The first half hour was a dour affair, but Mansfield should have gone in at least a goal ahead.
Derek Asamoah was twice denied by keeper Neil Edwards, one a great point blank range save and another a tame finish when clean through.
Asamoah also blazed another opportunity over while Larkin crashed a shot inches wide of the far post.
Rochdale defended stoutly and when they decided to employ a second striker they might even have won it.
Home keeper Kevin Pilkington had to save from Leighton McGivern when he went through on 69 minutes and a minute later denied Ernie Cooksey at the far post as he got on the end of a Leo Bertos' cross but Larkin's goal finally put Mansfield in charge, and there was still time for them to survive penalty appeals when Grant Holt's header appeared to strike a Mansfield hand on the goal line.
The referee didn't give a penalty, leaving the visitors cursing their luck.
“I never have much luck here when I come back,” blasted Rochdale manager Parkin.
“Referees are paid to make decisions and the most important ones are in the two boxes.
“If that wasn't a penalty then I've never seen one in my life. Mansfield were the home side and neither the referee or the linesman had the strength to give it.”
He added: “It would have been a good point as Mansfield have had some good results at home and scored a lot of goals. So it was important that we stayed nice and solid which we did.
“But, from having the ball by the corner flag, we showed a total lack of discipline in giving it away and it resulted inevitably in a goal at the other end.”
Mansfield Town ……… Rochdale
45-----------Possession %---- 55
6------------Shots on Target----7
3------------Shots off Target---65
Mansfield 1-0 Rochdale
By David Chaffey
Steve Parkin was left fuming with the referee after Dale had a clear penalty turned down and Dale ended up losing against Mansfield 1-0 at Field Mill having conceded a late goal. Match report and player ratings now online.
Rochdale slipped down the table to 16th following an away defeat at Mansfield Town. We should be used to not winning at Field Mill but I believe we should have something more out of the game. It just wasn't our day today.
Steve Parkin made two changes to the team that drew against Darlington at home as new signing from the Latics, Ernie Cooksey replaced Leo Bertos on the left wing and Alan Goodall replaced Tony Gallimore who was suffering from flu and left out of the squad. Rochdale started with the 4-5-1 that Parkin likes using and went with Neil Edwards in net, a back four of Wayne Evans, Alan Goodall, Daryl Burgess and Gareth Griffiths, a midfield 5 of Brian Cash, Ernie Cooksey, Jamie Clarke, Neil Brisco and Gary Jones. Grant Holt was left to roam around causing problems up front on his lonesome. The Dale bench was made up of Matt Gilks, Ashley Probets, Leo Bertos, Leighton McGivern and Paul Tait.
Dale could have opened the scoring in the first 5 minutes when some good link-up play by Brian Cash and Grant Holt put Holt away down the wing, Cash continued into the box and Holt found him with a good pass but Cash was unable to controlled the ball properly and Pilkington wasn't troubled.
With about 13 minutes of the game gone, Dale broke forward again and had a good chance to score. Former Stags player Jamie Clarke played a cracking ball through for Grant Holt whose shot was well saved by Pilkington in the Stags goal.
About 10 minutes later, Brian Cash had another good opportunity, this time it came from a mistake by a Mansfield defender and Cash tried to take advantage with a shot but Pilkington was once again on hand to save it.
With 23 minutes gone, Mansfield had a good chance when a freekick was played short to Larkin who made Goodall look silly with a good turn and shot but his shot was kept out by Neil Edwards.
Mansfield had a goal ruled out on 30 minutes when David Artell met the ball with a good header but the linesman had raised his flag to give offside much to the disappointment of the home supporters.
About a minute later, Larkin had a good chance when he shot from long range but his effort swerved at the last second and missed the target by no more than a few inches.
Mansfield were looking very dangerous when they did manage to break forward. Derek Asamoah is a quality player when he is on the ball but his finishing is suspect and that was very evident today as he spurned two very good chances to put Mansfield ahead.
The first of these chances came because of a mix-up in the Dale defence leaving Asamoah to just lift it over the keeper who was out of the 6 yard box but he spooned the ball over the bar from the edge of the box.
His other big chance was well saved by Neil Edwards. A brilliant through ball by Wayne Corden sent the former Cobblers striker through but Edwards made a good save to stop him.
That was it for the first half and the teams went in 0-0 at half time.
With just 10 minutes of the second half gone, Daryl Burgess was forced off the pitch with an injury he picked up earlier in the game and he was replaced by New Zealand international Leo Bertos who went on the left wing with Ernie Cooksey moving into the middle and Jamie Clarke dropping into centre back.
With an hour gone, Mansfield piled the pressure on the Dale defence but Dale were holding their own and kept the score at 0-0 thanks to some desperate defending.
With about 67 minutes gone, Steve Parkin brought Leighton McGivern on for Brian Cash whose loan spell from Nottingham Forest ended today. Whether we extend the loan remains to be seen but I wouldn't be disappointed if we didn't. With the introduction of McGivern, we switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 with Leighton partnering Holty up front and Leo switching to the right wing with Cooksey on the left.
It was the substitute McGivern who REALLY should have given Dale the lead after being put through by Holt and he was one on one with the keeper but hit his shot too straight and Pilkington was equal to it and the score remained 0-0.
Very shortly after that, Ernie Cooksey nearly marked his debut with a goal as he came in at the back post and met a good cross but his effort was excellently saved by Pilkington who always seems to play well against us. Shame he never did when he was on loan at Dale a few years ago.
Neil Edwards was called into action with 15 minutes to go when Wayne Corden hit a volley into the ground but the ball bounced up and Edwards did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.
With just 5 minutes to go, Mansfield took the lead against the run of play. Neil Brisco was at fault for not clearing properly and Colin Larkin picked up as it was bouncing and used a high foot to get the better of Griffiths and Larkin broke into the box and finished it past Neil Edwards to make it 1-0 to the home side on 85 minutes.
With the score at 1-0 and there being only a few minutes plus stoppage time left, Parkin threw on Paul Tait for Wayne Evans to try and nick a goal and it very nearly worked as Dale were piling the pressure on.
With a couple of minutes to go a free kick to Dale was swung in to the box and Gareth Griffiths headed the ball square to the substitute Tait who hit it goalwards and the ball was stopped on the line by the hand of Stags defender Tom Curtis but the referee and his linesmen didn't see it the ball was cleared.
Mansfield had one last chance in the game with the game seemingly won and it fell to substitute Joe O'Neill, on loan from Preston North End. He received the ball about 25 yards out and with Edwards off his line, he tried a cheeky lob but Edwards spotted it and dived back to save it.
The game ended 1-0 with the Dale fans rightly annoyed by the lack of a decision by Mr Singh the referee which would have seen Dale come away with an impressive point but it wasn't to be and Dale went home without a point which sees them slip to 16th in the table.
The next game is at home to Notts County who now sit bottom of the Football League after being beaten again today.
Neil Edwards 7 Made a few decent saves and claimed most crosses he came for
Wayne Evans 6 His distribution was very poor most of the time but was ok defensively
Alan Goodall 6 Pretty similar to Evo. He made a few good tackles and burst forward when he could but his passing was woeful
Daryl Burgess 7 Until he went off he was one of our best players against a fast and dangerous attack
Gareth Griffiths 6 Struggled for pace against their forwards but won a lot in the air
Brian Cash 6 Had two great chances to score but blew them both. Not disappointed it was his last game today
Ernie Cooksey 6 Less than average first half but he came into the game much more in the second half and nearly scored
Jamie Clarke 7 Did well, his passing was very good and he did well when he moved to the back
Neil Brisco 7 Did well I thought, his passing was excellent and he linked the play up well. Was at fault for giving the ball away late on though
Gary Jones 7 He worked very hard as usual and had the referee not got in the way, he may have scored
Grant Holt 7 Worked hard as usual and nearly scored.
Leo Bertos 7 Looked dangerous when he came on and should regain his starting place now
Leighton McGivern 7 Came on in the second half and missed a glorious chance but he worked hard and put himself about
Paul Tait 7 Did well in the short time he was on and nearly scored.
Mansfield 1-0 Rochdale
Colin Larkin struck a late winner to earn Mansfield victory over Rochdale.
The Stags created few chances in a low-key first half, Larkin's cross and Derek Asamoah's header forcing a fine parried save from Neil Edwards.
David Artell had a header from a corner disallowed for offside but Larkin put them in front after a Scott McNiven cross was deflected into his path.
Rochdale were furious to be denied a penalty when Grant Holt's late header appeared to be handled on the line.
Mansfield Town 1 Rochdale 0
ROCHDALE could count themselves distinctly unlucky to come away from Field Mill with nothing to show as for long periods they frustrated the free scoring hosts.
With Dale seemingly in control Mansfield scored an undeserved winner courtesy of the divisions leading scorer Colin Larkin on 86 minutes.
Worse was to follow for the visitors as almost immediately after they went behind they were denied a blatant penalty when midfielder Tom Curtis clearly handled Paul Tait's header under his own crossbar.
Stuart Ashworth at Field Mill
Rochdale could count themselves unlucky not to leave Field Mill with something after an organised Steve Parkin side put in a performance that frustrated MansfieldTown.
A late Colin Larkin goal and a dismissed penalty claim ended Dale's grasp on any points when it looked as though the visitors had done enough to get something from this one.
Rochdale manager Steve Parkin made two changes to his side with no place in the starting line up for Leo Bertos following the arrival of Ernie Cooksey and Tony Gallimore made way for Alan Goodall due after picking a flu bug.
With four minutes played Rochdale put together a good move after Cash collected the ball and found Holt out wide.Holt skipped down the line and squared the ball to Cash who'd continued his run but his effort was easy for Pilkington.
The game went scrappy for a while and we had to wait until the 13th minute for the first shot on target and it came from Dale.Jamie Clarke on his return to Field Mill found Holt with a sweepingpass and the striker fired in a low shot from the angle that was saved by Pilkington.
It wasn't a classic at this stage and goal mouth action was certainly at a premium.With 24 minutes played Brian Cash playing possibly his last match for Rochdale seized on a loose ball back to his 'keeper from McNiven.Cash attempted to squeeze the ball passed the advancing keeper, but an out-stretched hand managed to get in the block.
As the half entered the final 15 minutes the home side began to enjoy more of the ball and more of the chances.
Asamoah was guilty of spurning a couple of guilt-egded chances the first of which he blazed over the bar from the edge of the box just five minutes before the break. With the half coming to a close a lovely defence splitting pass arrived in Asamoah's path but after running into the box and one on one with Edwards the diminutive striker's efforts were thwarted by the Dale 'keeper.
The second half began as the first half began, scrappy with not much happening in the danger zones, but Parkin's plan to frustrate the home side was working despite the game going down in history as a classic.
With an hour on the clock Mansfield began to enjoy most of the ball and looked for a time the more likely to open the scoringwith a barge of chances, but thankfully, despite frantic defending Dale's goal remained intact.
Dale's Daryl Burgess' retirement from the game became the catalyst for turning this dire game into something worth watching. Rochdale changed to a 4-4-2 formation on 66 minutes with the introduction of both Bertos and a few minutes later Leighton McGivern and it looked for a time that the switch could reap rewards in the form of three points.
In fact McGivern almost made the perfect start to the game when Dale began to get more into the game and after being put through by a Grant Holt header, but his effort was too central and easy for the keeper to block.
Just two minutes later with Rochdale pressing for the opening goal Pilkington again denied the visitors with a point blank save from Ernie Cooksey sliding in at the back post.
With 74 minutes played Mansfield managed a spell of pressure of their own and after two successive corners Wayne Cordon was unlucky to his back post volley tipped over the bar by Edwards.
The last ten minutes of the match dissolved the memories of a poor game with both sides pressing and both sides looking likely to score.
Sadly for the visitors and somewhat against the run of play Mansfield took the lead following poor defending from Rochdale who failed to clear their lines.
Colin Larkin stole into the box amongst the bodies of fallen defenders and attackers after the ball came off the head of Gareth Griffiths and smashed a low shot passed man of the match Neil Edwards.
Parkin's last roll of the dice was to introduce striker Paul Tait for Wayne Evans in a last ditch bid to get a point from the fixture.
The plan almost came off at a stroke when Rochdale should have been awarded a penalty. Gareth Griffiths nodded a freekick across the goal that substitute Paul Tait redirected goalwards. The ball was stopped by a Tom Curtis arm and amazingly the referee Mr Singh and his assistants failed to see it.
The incident left the Rochdale management team livid as they tried to plead with the official amongst the chuckles of relief among the home supporters.
Steve Parkin was disappointed at the end of the game and following his post match interviews had an appointment with referee Mr Singh to discuss the penalty claim and get his view on the matter - oh to be a fly on the wall!
Busy and always a threat, scored winner.
A couple of fine saves and commanding performance in his box. Won everything he went for.
Managers Comments in Brief
"Didn't see the penalty through a crowd of people so I cannot comment."
"If that wasn't a penalty then I have never seen one."
Evening Post website
STAGS HAVE COLIN TO THANK FOR WIN
Mansfield Town 1 v 0 Rochdale Utd
Mansfield earned a controversial 1-0 win over Rochdale thanks to Colin Larkin's seventh goal in as many games.
The lively frontman struck home five minutes from time after a Scott McNiven cross was deflected into his path.
But Rochdale were left feeling aggrieved when with two minutes left Grant Holt's header appeared to be handled on the line before being scrambled clear.
Mansfield had the better of the chances in a scrappy game but rarely threatened a breakthrough early on.
Larkin broke down the right and crossed in for Derek Asamoah after half an hour and his flick-on seemed destined for goal until Neil Edwards parried it wide.
From the resulting corner, Dave Artell headed home, only to have his effort ruled out for offside.
Larkin leaves it late
ON-FIRE Stags striker Colin Larkin made it seven goals in seven games to shoot down battling Rochdale 1-0 at Field Mill this afternoon.
But he left it late - the winning goal came just five minutes from time.
And, to further upset Rochdale manager Steve Parkin, the former Stags boss was left furious when a late header from Grant Holt appeared to strike a Mansfield hand on the goal line and no penalty was awarded.
Nevertheless, Stags deserved some good fortune after spending much of the afternoon chipping away at a side who played only one striker for over an hour with chances at a premium.
The victoty moved Mansfield up to fourth in the table and set them up nicely for next Saturday's trip to leaders Scunthorpe United with four unbeaten League games behind them.
Stags made one change with Curtis brought into midfield with John-Baptiste pushed back into the centre of defence and Day dropped to the bench.
Rochdale included former Stags defender Jamie Clarke who was marking his 22nd birthday by returning to Field Mill and he turned in an excellent display in midfield.
Stags won a fourth minute corner, but this was cleared and there was some desperate back peddling to prevent the visitors capitalising on the breakaway.
The visitors were then awarded a free kick 20 yards out, but Cooksley sent it low at Pilkington.
A pass from Clarke put Holt in space on the right. The angle was tight but he still drilled in a low effort that Pilkington gathered at his near post.
But, overall, the first 15 minutes were a little frantic with neither side able to settle and the wind playing a part, too.
Pilkington confidently punched away the visitors' first corner.
When Stags won a free kick on the right, it was fed to Larkin who neatly dummied Goodall but saw the Rochdale man just managed to deflect his shot into the side netting.
At the other end a poor McNiven header back towards his keeper almost let in Cash, Pilkington just getting there first.
It had taken half-an-hour to see Stags get the ball down and start playing. But suddenly the chances began to come.
Larkin crossed to the near post where Asamoah stretched out a leg to get the ball on target and Edwards responded with a superb save to deny his close range attempt.
The corner was cleared to MacKenzie who chipped the ball back in and Artell powered home a header that saw celebrations quickly end with the sight of an offside flag.
A minute later Larkin cut in from the right and sent a curling shot inches wide of the far post.
On 40 minutes Stags almost caught Rochdale out with a swift counter attack. Corden led the charge and almost got Larkin in on goal. Burgess struggled to clear but did enough to halt Larkin, the ball rolled invitingly to Asamoah on the edge of the box, but he blazed it well over first time.
Griffiths was booked three minutes from the break after a foul on Asamoah in the centre circle.
Asamoah then showed his pace to slip between two defenders wide on the right only to drill the ball across the face of goal with no one able to capitalise.
Asamoah should have opened the scoring in the one minute of stoppage time. Larkin began the move, feeding Corden. His through ball was perfect for Asamoah down the centre.
But from 12 yards out he shot tamely at the keeper as half-time arrived with the scores stalemate at 0-0.
Stags began the second half with two quick corners to no avail.
A good spell of pressure then had the Rochdale defence creaking.
A 30-yard free kick offered more promise for Stags. But MacKenzie's blast went straight into the wall.
Goodhall was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Neil on 67 minutes.
Rochdale hasn't really had a sniff of goal all half. But on 69 minutes they had the best chance of the match as Parkin finally went with a second striker.
A long ball forward saw substitute McGivern sneak clear down the centre only to see Pilkington spread himself to make a superb save and Cooksley blasted the follow-up well over.
A minute later Bertos sent a teasing ball across goal to the far post where Cooksley was thwarted by a brave save from Pilkington.
All of a sudden the visitors' tails were up and Jones had a 20-yard shot deflected narrowly wide.
Mansfield replied with a far post cross by Neil that Corden volleyed into the ground and saw the ball fly up and threaten to sneak under the bar before Edwards managed to tip it over.
Rochdale forced a corner which Griffiths headed wide at the far post.
Then McGivern's through ball hit Holt on the heel. He still managed to wrestle the ball back in the box but poked a finish wide of the target.
Stags needed a hero as we entered the last five minutes. And once again it was Larkin who produced the goods. McNiven's cross came back out as far as Larkin who confidently drilled in a deadly low finish.
There was more drama two minutes later as a Clarke free kick from the right found Holt 10 yards from goal. He got a head to it but somehow, and with a suspicion of handball on the line, it failed to go in.
Murray (Stags) and Tait (Rochdale) were booked within four minutes of each other.
In the three minutes of stoppage time, Dale forced two corners and, with the last kick of the afternoon, Brisco cracked a 20 yard shot over.
But Mansfield clung on and were left to reflect on a very hard-earned three points after scoring so freely in the two previous home games.
Latest | September 2004