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Archived News from December 2003

26th December 2003 23:38

Mansfield 1-0 Rochdale
Full report and ratings
By David Chaffey

Rochdale couldn't continue their winning streak as they lost out at Field Mill to Keith Curle's Mansfield Town in the Boxing Day fixture. Full match report and player ratings are now online.

After a somewhat decent pre-xmas period for Dale that saw us pick up 6 points from the bury and Boston games, spirits were better but soon dashed as they came out of the Boxing Day fixture at Field Mill with no points. It may be the Panto season but Gareth Griffiths' mistake took the micky and it proved to be a costly mistake as it gifted the win to Mansfield.

Rochdale welcomed back Sean McClare to the squad after he returned from a 3 match suspension and new signing Kevin Donovan was also included in the squad. The most surprising thing about the whole afternoon was that Patrick McCourt, M.O.M in the last game after his fantastic performance coming on as a sub last week against Boston, was left out of the whole squad which was a shock and huge disappointment to fans! The Dale team was: Neil Edwards in net, Wayne Evans, Gareth Griffiths, Daryl Burgess and Michael Simpkins in defence, Leo Bertos, Chris Beech, Gary Jones and Matthew Doughty in midfield, Connor and Bishop up front with the bench including Gilks, Grand, McClare, Townson and Donovan.

A slow-ish start to the game by both sides in the poor weather conditions but it was the home side who looked more like scoring and on 10 minutes Mendes was put through the score after a fast counter attack but Daryl Burgess put in a great tackle to stop him and force the corner.

Dale could have been awarded a penalty after 20 minutes when tricky right winger Leo Bertos was brought down right on the edge of the area and while most fans around me thought it was inside the box, myself and the referee thought it was outside and the referee gave a free kick.

It was the same old story for Dale as they looked to create chances with some decent work coming in from the wings with some good crosses that were not pounced on by the strikers but there was always a sense of hope in the game for Dale who looked like they were very capable of coming away from the overcrowded Field Mill with at least a point, maybe 3. Some great defending at the back by Rhys Day was part of the reason Dale didn't manage to take the lead on occasions.

Rochdale should have taken the lead when Connor broke with Bishop with him every step of the way and was totally unmarked, we shouted to pass the ball and that was the sensible option but no Connor drove goal-wards and lost the ball and the chance was totally wasted!

Junior Mendes was threatening for Mansfield and he nearly put the home side ahead when he managed to get a shot in from the right but Edwards saved it.

The score stayed the same and the teams went into the half time interval 0-0. The half time break meant that the almost 7000 fans were treated to about 10 cheerleaders dancing to some truly disgustingly untalented music by the likes of Sean Paul and Black Eyed Peas, what is the world coming to may I ask?

Dale started the second half well but 10 minutes into the half Mansfield took the lead after a shambolic error by Gareth Griffiths who made a total hash of a back pass to Neil Edwards let in Colin Larkin who found the net with relative ease to make it Mansfield 1 Rochdale 0. This was a huge disappointment to most of the fans in the away end but unfortunately for some reason around 10 Mansfield fans were allowed to watch the game in the away end without being noticed it would seem until they scored that is and to say that we didn't take to kindly to it was an understatement and the police and stewards came in for some very heavy criticism and the fans involved were escorted out of the now very angry away end!

Rochdale's new signing Kevin Donovan was introduced on 65 minutes as he replaced Matt Doughty who had a decent game. This change saw Donovan move to the right wing and Leo Bertos move to the left wing. Kevin Townson was also introduced shortly after he replaced Andy Bishop when it was thought around us that Connor was the one who deserved to be replaced due to his very poor performance. Needless to say, the introduction of Kev was widely appreciated and had a very positive effect.

Mansfield nearly extended their lead when the home side got in 3 shots that Neil Edwards managed to keep out in stunning fashion in quick succession! Right out of the top drawer from the Wales number 1.

Rochdale had the best chance of the game other than the one that was separating the 2 teams when Kevin Townson did magnificent down the left flank and got a wonderful ball in which Connor should have scored but totally missed it and it fell to the new guy Donovan who blasted goal-wards but straight to Pilkington in the Stags goal when it seemed that it might have been easier to miss!

The game ended 1-0 to Mansfield but Dale certainly had the chances to score and take something from the game but they didn't and paid the price for it.

Player Ratings:

Neil Edwards 7 Made 3 stunning saves in a matter of seconds and had no chance with the goal
Wayne Evans 6 Defended quite well to say he had to deal with quick forwards
Michael Simpkins 6 A couple of good crosses and good tackles, not too bad
Daryl Burgess 6 Made some good tackles. Went off injured towards the end
Gareth Griffiths 6 Defended well but the horrendous error was very costly
Leo Bertos 6 Quite ineffective but looked lively on occasions
Matt Doughty 6 Some decent crosses and had a decent-ish game
Chris Beech 5 Has started 4 games on the trot and I have come to the conclusion he is a waste of a wage to be honest
GARY JONES 7 Once again he had to run the midfield on his own and did it well with the exception of a couple of dodgy passes. My M.O.M
Paul Connor 4 Arguably his worst game for the club ever. Was simply awful, what does he have to do to be substituted?
Andy Bishop 7 Held the ball up well and looked dangerous, should have been left on
Kevin Donovan 6 He can certainly cross but should have got a point at the end without question
Kevin Townson 7 Looked very lively and did well when he came on, he and Bishop may have had more luck
Simon Grand 6 Not on long after replacing Burgess but did Ok
A DREADFUL Gareth Griffiths error gifted high-flying Mansfield a victory they didn't deserve.
Grffiths under-hit a back pass on 56 minutes, giving Colin Larkin a late Christmas present and Mansfield all three points.
Dale were never second best and enjoyed most of the game's meaningful possession .
As they went in search of what would have been a richly deserved late leveller, 'keeper Neil Edwards kept Dale in the contest with a world class double-save that should have had its reward a minute later.
However, substitute Kevin Donovan allowed Mansfield 'keeper Kevin Pilkington to save when it would have been simpler to score.
Report from footymad.net:
Unfortunate Dale defender Gareth Griffiths gifted Mansfield the perfect Christmas present - the winning goal.
Griffiths mishit his 56th minute backpass 20 yards from goal and Colin Larkin nipped in, curling his right footed close range finish past stranded keeper Neil Edwards.
It was Larkin's fourth goal of the season and enough to clinch promotion chasing Mansfield's first home win in three games and end Dale's two-match winning run. Larkin should of wrapped up the victory nine minutes from time but this time Edwards saved from the foot of the post moments after a double point blank stop had twice denied Lee Williamson in an amazing goal mouth scramble.
The visitors almost capitalised on the keeper's heroics with what would have been a deserved equaliser. Substitute Kevin Townson broke clear down the left and crossed to the unmarked Kevin Donovan, but with the goal at his mercy the unmarked sub saw his low finish saved by the diving Kevin Pilkington.
The Stags, missing four first-team regulars, had created the first chance despite playing into the teeth of driving rain and wind. Wayne Corden broke clear on a counter attack, fed Lee Williamson whose clever pass set up Junior Mendes, only for the striker's shot to be saved.
Dale should have won a penalty in the 20th minute, but although Wayne Corden appeared to trip Leo Bertos inside the area referee Paul Robinson awarded the free kick outside the area and Bertos got up to curl it just wide.
Dale, far from overawed by Mansfield's biggest crowd of the season, dominated the opening half in terrible conditions and from one Paul Connor breakaway Andy Bishop was unlucky to see his low drive deflected for a corner.
Mansfield's best chance of the half fell to Junior Mendes but his low drive after a quick turn and run was saved by the excellent Edwards.
Report from CHAD website
ROCHDALE gift wrapped injury-hit Mansfield Town three crucial points in front of Field Mill's biggest crowd of the season today with a narrow 1-0 win.
In a game of few chances, played in dreadful wind and rain, a poor backpass by Gareth Griffiths on 56 minutes set up Colin Larkin for a well-taken fourth goal of the season to push Stags back into the top three automatic promotion places.
Mansfield spurned some good chances to seal victory late in the game while Rochdale substitute Kevin Donovan was also denied by a great save from Kevin Pilkington on 83 minutes as the 6,963 crowd clung on to the edge of their seats.
Stags were rocked by four injuries to key players. Dave Artell, Liam Lawrence, Iyseden Christie and Neil MacKenzie were all ruled out.
In came Dimech, Corden, and Larkin with manager's Keith Curle's son Thomas joining a bench vastly reduced in experience.
Stags went straight at the visitors and Larkin and Williamson played two neat one-twos to get Larkin into the box, a defender's toe robbing him and calls for a back pass ignored.
Mansfield had the wind and rain in their faces but continued to look the more dangerous.
And on 11 minutes quick passes from Corden and Williamson released Mendes into the box only for Burgess to slide in and concede the corner which was hammered clear.
As the game progressed the queues of supporters continued to file in with fans led round the pitch into the spare sets in the North Stand and then into the Bishop Street stand.
Referee Mr Robinson eventually held up play as fans crowded the pitch perimeter in their efforts to find a seat.
Mansfield had a let-off on 20 minutes when Corden appeared to bring down Bertos as he tried to pass him just inside the box on the right. However, the referee adjudged the foul to be just outside the box and Bertos' eventual curling free kick went wide of the far post.
A Williamson free kick was cleared as far as Larkin in the Rochdale box. But the Stags striker completely missed his kick with an attempted volley.
Rochdale responded with a raid down the right which saw Jones get in a shot which was deflected for the visitors' first corner on 28 minutes.
Day headed out for second and Rochdale were then penalised for pushing to end the danger.
The visitors soaked up more pressure before a clearance saw them briefly catch Stags two on one, Connor holding onto the ball too long and Vaughan doing well to get back quickly, Rochdale eventually getting nothing more than a corner.
Stags wasted a corner of their own shortly after before Simpkins was well wide for Rochdale with a hopeful effort from 30 yards.
Mansfield finally brought a save out of Edwards on 40 minutes as Disley slotted the ball into Mendes' path and he turned and ran into the right of the box before getting in a low shot that Edwards grabbed at the second attempt after an initial parry.
Slack defending a minute later at the other end almost proved costly as defenders ball watched as a clearance dropped and bounced 18 yards from goal, allowing Connor to turn and lash the ball inches wide.
Bertos then had a shot blocked before the pressure was lifted as Jones tackled Williamson from behind to earn a yellow card.
Stags produced the first move of note after the break as Williamson found Corden who crossed and hard to the far post first time with no one there to capitalise.
Rochdale hit back with two corners and visiting fans were furious when, as Stags failed to clear the second properly, play was stopped with Rochdale on the attack for a player from both sides down injured in the box.
It was poor entertainment for the big Festive crowd. But they found themselves celebrating a goal out the blue on 56 minutes for the Stags.
With so few chances it was likely a breakthrough would only come from a mistake and a dreadful backpass from Griffiths from the edge of the box went only to Larkin who steered the ball round Edwards with the outside of his right boot.
Jones tried his luck from 20 yards on the hour and saw it take a slight deflection wide for a corner which, when it came, was met by the head of Griffiths but was easy for Pilkington.
Clarke replaced Vaughan at left back for Mansfield on 61 minutes after the former Forest star had taken a knock a few minutes earlier.
Rochdale made a change of their own with Donovan on for Doughty on 66 minutes and then Townson for Bishop two minutes later as the Lancastrians looked to significantly up their firepower.
But shaky Rochdale defending gifted Mansfield two corners, the first ending with Corden having a vicious shot blocked.
The visitors' final substitution was an enforced one on 74 minutes as Burgess limped off to be replaced by Grand.
Rochdale keeper Edwards made an astonishing double save on 80 minutes to keep their hopes of salvaging a point alive.
He could only turn Corden's long cross away as far as Williamson who met it with a bullet shot that Edwards parried and then somehow recovered to also keep out Williamson's follow-up.
Another golden chance came two minutes later as Mendes broke down the centre and set up Larkin who shot straight at Edwards.
Rochdale then wasted a golden chance of their own on 83 minutes as play swung from end to end.
They broke down the left and when Townson sent a low cross skidding through everyone to the far post, Townson arrived late to meet it first time from eight yards only to look on in disbelief as Pilkington threw himself in its path and held on.
Simpkins was booked for a shove on Disley near the end as Stags held on with no more major scares.


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