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Fourth successive win for the Stags

Posted onPosted on 12th Apr

Mansfield Town 3
Rochdale 0

Mansfield Town celebrated their 5,000th competitive match in style with an exciting victory over leaders Rochdale that stretched their winning run to four matches and unbeaten run to six matches.

Despite late second half goals by Martin Riley, his first of the season, Matt Rhead and Ryan Tafazolli – all from set pieces – the Stags are still not mathematically safe from relegation, 10 points clear of the drop zone with four matches remaining.

However, Mansfield are now looking upwards rather than down the table and are just six points off an unlikely play-off place.

The Stags matched the high-flying visitors in a thrilling, end-to-end first-half played in a pulsating atmosphere, before dominating the second period.

Rochdale’s movement and quick counter-attacks caused numerous problems for the home side in the first period and from one they struck the post. But the Stags, despite lacking conviction in front of goal for an hour, created the better chances and always looked likely to score from a corner or free kick.

Mansfield made four changes, with loan keeper Lewis Price making his debut and 17-year-old Jack Thomas coming on for his first appearance in the closing minutes.

Wing back Colin Daniel was a surprise choice to play behind strikers Rhead and Ollie Palmer, with Sam Clucas again only on the bench, and went on to give a man of the match performance.

However, the Stags also created chances in an open match that was in contrast to recent home games at the One Call Stadium.

The match kicked off at 3.07pm in tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago.

The Stags almost took a surprise first minute lead when Daniel broke down the left and Palmer just failed to meet his cross.

Henderson fired wide for the visitors and Vincenti was blocked by Clements’ challenge.

Daniel shot wide after a quick breakaway and then tested the keeper from 25 yards.

Ritchie Sutton’s shot in a scramble from a corner was charged down and at the other end Lund’s glancing header was easily stopped.

The Stags were looking vulnerable to the counter-attack, but were still creating the better chances, particularly around goalmouth melees at set pieces. From one, Palmer failed to take advantage of a misplaced header that left the goal open.

From another dangerous Dale breakaway, Vincenti chipped against the post with the goal at his mercy after Price had done well to thwart the lively Hogan.

Tafazolli’s header from a corner was blocked by Lancaster on the line. For Dale, Henderson blasted over when clear inside the area.

Then in first half injury time Palmer’s low shot lacked power and was comfortably saved.

Palmer glanced James Jennings’ deep free kick wide at the start of the second half and Rhead’s cross almost picked out Palmer on a counter-attack.

Almost inevitably the breakthrough came from a corner, 18 minutes from time. Riley rose highest to nod in a flag kick from the returning Chris Clements, the ball somehow crossing the line past two defenders.

Rhead then headed a good Darryl Westlake cross narrowly wide before at the other end a hishit Graham Cummins’ shot landed on the bar and Adam Murray had to head to safety over his own bar.

Three minutes from time Jennings’ corner was powered in by Rhead at the far post with a thumping header.

Then in the final minute Jennings won a free kick near the corner flag and Clements’ free kick was headed in by Tafazolli ahead of substitute Sam Clucas.