Report: Dale 3-0 Stags
Mansfield Town’s miserable run in Sky Bet League Two continued, as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Rochdale.
The hosts, who move back into the Play-Off zone, dominated throughout and two goals inside the first 12 minutes from Scott Hogan and Matthew Lund helped them to establish a commanding lead.
Hogan added gloss to an emphatic victory, which was never in any doubt, when he poked home from just a few yards, shortly after the re-start.
On a chilly afternoon in Greater Manchester, the Stags made the worst possible start, as Rochdale roared into a fifth-minute lead.
Graham Cummins broke away down the left flank and delivered a pin-point cross towards the edge of the six-yard box, where an unmarked Hogan planted a firm header beyond a static Alan Marriott.
Keith Hill’s team dictated possession in the early exchanges and were always looking to spring a quick-attack, which is exactly how they created their second goal on 12 minutes.
On this occasion, Peter Vincenti collected play wide on the right channel and drilled an inviting low ball through the six-yard box that was slotted home at the far-post by Lund.
Mansfield enjoyed two corners in quick succession around the quarter-hour mark, but Rochdale held firm and cleared away the danger without any great difficulty.
The hosts nearly struck again when John McCombe’s sloppy back-pass meant Marriott had to boot the ball away to safety, with Hogan, who was chasing down, in very close proximity.
Rochdale also defended doggedly when they were required to and survived something a goalmouth scramble, as neither Calvin Andrew or Anthony Howell were able to get a shot away.
Ian Henderson went close to making it 3-0 on the half-hour mark, when he worked his way inside and let fly with an audacious 25-yard strike, which was narrowly off-target.
The Stags then enjoyed a brief spell of pressure, but Ollie Palmer couldn’t test debutant home ‘keeper Robbie Thomson, when he latched onto the end of Lee Beevers’ left-wing cross.
In the first of two minutes injury time at the end of the first half, an unmarked Cummins should have done much better, when he volleyed over at the far-post following a superb cross by Joe Rafferty.
Rochdale looked by far the sharpest team after the re-start, but both Henderson and Cummins spurned quick chances to make it 3-0.
An unmarked Henderson was denied by Marriott in a one-on-one, following a defence-splitting ball by Hogan, before Cummins’ follow up effort was blocked on the line by Darryl Westlake.
Nevertheless, Mansfield’s respite was short-lived as from the subsequent corner, the hosts struck again.
Michael Rose was the provider, flashing a low ball across the six-yard box, which was gratefully stabbed into the net by Hogan from just a few yards out.
The Stags’ miserable afternoon threatened to become even worse, when substitute Lindon Meikle, who had only just replaced Ross Dyer, collided with Rose on the edge of the area.
Despite the hosts’ appeals for a spot-kick, they were instead awarded a free-kick, which Lund subsequently hammered straight at a well-positioned Marriott.
However, rampant Rochdale continued to create gilt-edge chances at will, and in their next effort, Marriott was forced to hold a low drive by Hogan, following Rose’s low left-wing cross.
More goals seemed inevitable and only some deep last-ditch defending by Westlake prevented Cummins from reaching a low ball over the top and advancing into a one-on-one with Marriott.
The closing stages were largely uneventful, with the Stags lacking any serious thrust to trouble a Rochdale side, who looked the more likely to score the game’s fourth goal.
Hogan, who was chief tormentor in the Stags’ downfall, received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Joe Bunney with only a handful of minutes remaining.
One last Rochdale attack came on the brink of three minutes of added time, but Bunney was able to make a telling connection to Vincenti's low right-wing cross towards the near-post.