FOURTH HOME DEFEAT ON THE TROT
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 Rochdale
Hjelde 45+2. Murray 9, Dodds 90
Attendance: 2023 (243 from Rochdale)
Martin Shaw and Svante Bernhard at Field Mill
LAST MINUTE GOAL CONSIGNS STAGS TO FOURTH HOME DEFEAT ON THE TROT
Mansfield Town fell to their fourth consecutive home defeat against Rochdale this afternoon. It was the first time since September 2002 that the Stags had lost four on the trot at home. It was also the first time in 13 years that Dale had won at Field Mill. The Stags did enough to earn a point, but a last minute header by Dodds took the points for the visitors. The Stags had earlier fought back from an early goal with an equaliser by Hjelde just before half time. The early Rochdale goal looked two yards offside, but the returning Muggleton was caught hopelessly out of position as he was lobbed by Glenn Murray from the edge of the box. Conlon headed against a post for Mansfield before Hjelde knocked in a loose ball following a corner from Hamshaw just before half time. The second half was scrappy with few chances for either side and seemed to be heading for a draw until the last minute when a cross from the right was headed into the net by Louis Dodds.
Man of the Match: Ashley Kitchen
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STRUGGLING STAGS DESERVED BETTER
Evening Post, 16 April 2007
Normally, losing four straight home games is the kind of form that can be grounds for a manager's sacking.
But in Mansfield boss Billy Dearden's case there is an overwhelmingly strong mitigating circumstance, clear for everyone to see.
Over the past few weeks the squad has not just been affected by injuries, but decimated by them.
One by one a succession of players have been struck down, meaning physio Paul Madin has been working overtime just to get 11 bodies out on the pitch.
No less than ten first-teamers were either ruled out or carrying knocks for this particular game.
For clubs with big squads in the Premiership, such a hit would be difficult to cope with. For Mansfield, it has destroyed their run-in to the end of the season.
It was easy to sense Dearden's frustration after the game when he pointed to the fact he spends more time talking about injuries in post-match interviews than the game itself.
The unfortunate thing is it is unlikely to get any easier between now and the end of the season because most of the injuries are long-term.
And every time it seems it cannot get any worse, another player has been ruled out.
The latest to fall victim is left-back Gareth Jelleyman, who had to pull out 20 minutes before the game with a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.
Jelleyman had filled in admirably in the centre of the defence while Jake Buxton and Jon-Olav Hjelde have been out.
With Hjelde's return, the plan was to play him at left-back, but his absence meant youngster Ashley Kitchen was handed a last-minute debut as the Stags were again forced to reshuffle.
Kitchen dropped in at right-back, with Johnny Mullins switching to the left and it worked reasonably well to a point.
But the lack of consistency in selection means that working on things on the training ground is just not possible at the moment - and leads to more errors.
After passing a late fitness test Stephen Dawson took over as skipper, but he, too, had to come off with a groin injury.
When Alex John-Baptiste took the captain's armband for the final few minutes he was, effectively, Mansfield's third captain of the day, which tells you much about Mansfield's current plight.
Yet, even so, the Stags should still have claimed a point.
They went to sleep in the final seconds of the game and paid the price as Louis Dodds, on loan from Leicester, nipped in to secure Rochdale's first win at Field Mill since the early 1990s.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the home supporters who had turned out to watch a typical end-of-season affair.
A draw would at least have represented a welcome return with so many players out and with the team not in the best of form.
As it is, they now travel to Swindon this Saturday having lost their last three matches.
The Stags did, at least, end their goal drought that had gone on for 337 minutes.
The unlikely source was Norwegian Jon-Olav Hjelde in what will be one of his final games for Mansfield before he returns home this summer.
He had the simple task of slotting home after Barry Conlon had got up to flick on Matt Hamshaw's right-wing corner.
That strike came in first half stoppage time and equalised a goal by Rochdale front man Glenn Murray with just nine minutes played.
As Kitchen, playing his first ever game at right-back, did not step out leaving Murray onside, he raced onto Gary Brown's through ball and lobbed the ball over advancing keeper Carl Muggleton and into the net.
In between those two goals, neither side were overly threatening, although Mansfield did have two clear-cut opportunities. Conlon headed against the right-hand upright from a right-wing free-kick from Matt Hamshaw while Michael Boulding raced clear, but shot into the legs of Matthew Gilks when he really ought to have scored.
Hjelde's goal should have given Mansfield the lift they needed to go on and win the game in the second half, but it did not work out that way.
Bryan Hodge warmed the hands of Gilks with a shot from the edge of the area but the Stags did not create a great deal before Dodds popped up to bag the winner.
At the final whistle, a feeling of gloom engulfed Field Mill - except where the Rochdale fans were sitting in the North Stand, of course.
But there were some positives to take from the game, not least the performances of Kitchen, John-Baptiste and Conlon.
It was a huge day for Kitchen but he seemed to take it all in his stride and did not look out of his depth.
John-Baptiste was again superb and marshalled the back four with distinction, remaining calm and unflustered.
And Conlon enjoyed his best game for quite some time and looked every bit the player who scared the life out of the likes of Accrington, Walsall and Hereford when he first arrived in January.
Those three players could again have a big say at Swindon this coming weekend because none of those on the treatment table are likely to be back and Mansfield are down to the bare bones.
So if you are heading off down to the County Ground it is worth taking your boots along - you might just get a game.
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn:
DALE INFLICT FOURTH STRAIGHT HOME DEFEAT
Mansfield Town 1 Rochdale 2
It is now seven games without a win for injury ravaged Mansfield Town following their 2-1 defeat at home to Rochdale.
Stags already with an injury list as long as a battlefield hospital took a further blow just minutes before kick off when defender, Gareth Jelleyman had to pull out of the side. If that was not bad enough, Stags then fell behind after only 9 minutes and despite Hjelde pulling a goal back, crashed to their fourth straight home defeat by conceding another demoralizing late goal.
The visitors, Rochdale who following the result are now only four points off the last play off spot, could clearly smell blood as Stags struggle to limp home over the finish line to what has been a disappointing season.
Boss Billy Dearden made three changes but was dealt a body blow when Jelleyman had to pull out of the side. This meant a first team debut for Ashley Kitchen and a place on the bench for Sleath.
Rochdale started the brighter and forced the first corner of the game after only three minutes but Stags defence held firm to force away the danger.
However they could do nothing on 9 minutes when the visitors broke and took the lead. The ball was hammered from the right side where Murray, looking suspiciously offside reached it and lobbed the ball towards goal. The ball took one bounce and nestled neatly into the back of the net, giving Muggleton no chance whatsoever.
Stags responded well however and battled to get a foothold in the game. On 16 minutes they were almost level but again, lady-luck pulled a frown instead of a smile as Conlon's header from a Hamshaw cross clattered into the far-post and was scrambled away.
Stags kept sticking their heads down and battling and the Dale keeper, Gilks reacted well to dive at the feet of Dawson but Stags despite some good build up play were letting themselves down with the final ball.
Just before the half time break, striker, Michael Boulding had a great opportunity of pulling the Stags level but when the whole ground begged him to chip the ball over the keeper, Boulding hesitated and instead went for a low shot that was saved by the legs of Gilks. To be fair to the visitor's keeper, it was a good save, but still an opportunity that should have been put away.
Stags though did get the goal they were praying for deep into added on time and it came from an unlikely source in centre half, Hjelde. A Hamshaw corner was headed towards goal by Conlon and Hjelde was on hand to control and finish from close range. The relief around Field Mill was plain to see, as this was Mansfield's first goal in 337 minutes of football.
Hopes were now high that The Stags would go on and win the game and early on in the 2nd half, from a long throw in from Kitchen both Conlon and Lloyd had efforts blocked.
Just after the hour mark, both managers made a change. Dale brought on former Stags winger, Adam Rundle for Thompson and Stags introduced Arnold for Hamshaw.
Neat play between Dawson and Conlon then set up another wonderful chance for Micky Boulding but with the Dale defence open before him, he got the ball stuck under his feet and Dale were given the chance to clear.
Stags were edging the game now and Conlon and Boulding set up a chance for Hodge but his effort was easily saved by Gilks.
Dale then switched Dodds for Dagnall and Rory Boulding came on for Lloyd with Micky Boulding then dropping back into a midfield role.
However just as the crowd were expecting the game to trot over the line to a 1-1 draw, up stepped Dodds to score the winner. Brown crossed in from the right where Dodds got the right side of Hjelde to head the ball home to send the travelling Dale support delirious in celebration.
It was indeed a hammer blow for a Stags side who deserved at least a point from the game, but showed that in football there is no mercy.
This weekend Stags travel to promotion hunting, Swindon Town. A win for the home side and anything other than a victory for the MK Dons at Stockport will see Swindon celebrating automatic promotion.
Fourth home defeat on trot as injury list lengthens again for Stags
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 ROCHDALE 2
MANSFIELD Town's home misery continued as they lost for the fourth consecutive game at Field Mill this afternoon.
It was a seventh game without victory for the injury-ravaged Stags and the second week on the trot that a late lapse has proved costly.
Yet it seemed Jon Olav Hjelde's first goal of the season had at least earned them a share of the spoils in a game between two sides with nothing to play for but pride.
But on loan Leicester City youngster Louis Dodds stole a stoppage time winner right at the end to pour more misery on Billy Dearden's men with Dale's first win at Field Mill since 1994.
Stags' painful injury list grew worse in the pre-match warm-up as they lost skipper Gareth Jelleyman.
Stags had already made three changes when they suffered a pre-match blow as Jelleyman limped out of the warm-up after aggravating an Achille's tendon injury.
That meant 18-year-old youth team skipper Ashley Kitchen was quickly drafted in for what proved to be an assured and competent debut while Sleath came in to make up the numbers on the bench.
Kitchen started at right back with Mullins pushed over to left back in yet another patchwork defence.
Keeper White was dropped, replaced by Muggleton for the first time since 12th December, while Brown (hamstring) and Charlton (knee) had joined the club's lengthy injury list.
Dawson and Hjelde returned from injury to replace them, playing central midfield and central defence respectively.
Dawson was given the captain's armband and battled on bravely, despite having pulled up in training with an injured groin the day before.
Michael Boulding and Conlon were the front two for the afternoon, Conlon at least back to his very best in this game.
Mullins headed out a ball that bounced dangerously in the box from Poole's cross to give Rochdale a third minute corner.
John-Baptiste then got a leg in the way of a Dagnall drive as the visitors threatened again.
And Mansfield's rearranged rearguard was pierced after only nine minutes.
Brown hit the ball forward long and high from the right back position and, as Muggleton left his line, Murray powered through to lob him to perfection, the ball bouncing once and rising high into the roof of the net.
Stags looked at the linesman for an offside flag but Murray's 12th goal of the season stood.
Stags quickly responded with two corners but could not trouble keeper Gilks with either.
But on 16 minutes they were almost level. Hamshaw floated a free kick to the far post where Conlon rose to head back past Gilks and against the far post, Rochdale surviving the ensuing scramble.
Conlon headed a Hamshaw cross tamely at Gilks on 23 minutes while Thompson pulled a 20 yard shot wide for Rochdale three minutes later.
Dawson then burst through onto a Hodge through ball but Gilks was down bravely at his feet.
Stags continued to chip away with the final ball letting them down on several occasions.
Poole did try his luck for the visitors from 30 yards but ballooned his finish well over the top.
However, Boulding really should have equaliser a minute from the interval. Hamshaw's long ball over the top from the right put him into a one on one situation with Gilks.
But, with a lobbing opportunity beckoning, the Stags striker hesitated too long and his eventual low finish was blocked by the keeper's legs.
Hodge was too high from 25 yards as we entered stoppage time.
And in the third minute of that time added on Mansfield were deservedly level through Hjelde's first goal of the season.
Hamshaw floated in a right wing corner which Conlon headed goal wards and Hjelde was able to control and steer home from close range.
It was Mansfield's first goal in 337 minutes of football.
After the break another long thrown from Kitchen caused chaos in the Rochdale box as both Conlon and Lloyd had shots blocked.
On 63 minutes Rochdale made a switch on the wing with former Stag Rundle on for Thompson. Stags followed suit at the same time with Arnold coming on for Hamshaw.
A Stags corner was cleared and Rochdale went down the other end and forced two of their own.
Conlon and Dawson almost carved out a chance for Boulding but the ball got caught under his feet at the vital moment.
On 72 minutes Conlon and Boulding combined to set up Hodge whose shot was comfortably held by Gilks.
Dale switched Dodds for Dagnall and son after Rory Boulding came on for Lloyd, brother Michael dropping back to left midfield.
But as the game appeared to be petering out to a 1-1 draw, up popped substitute Dodds with a winner.
Brown crossed from the right to the near post where Dodds got a glancing header past Muggleton to steal the points and leave the meagre home crowd of 2023 shellshocked.
Latest | April 2007