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Match Reports

Report: Stags 1-1 Rochdale

10 April 2023

Promotion-chasing Mansfield Town were held at home by relegation-threatened Rochdale in a game which somehow yielded only two goals.

Midfielder Hiram Boateng put Stags ahead after six minutes, but Owen Dodgson equalised for the visitors two minutes before the end of the first-half.

Rochdale ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell was in sublime form and made a string of saves to keep his side in it, especially in the second-half.

Dale though looked dangerous on the counter and on another day may also have found the net in the second period.

Stags’ boss Nigel Clough made three changes from Good Friday’s 4-2 win at Swindon.

Midfielders George Maris and Hiram Boateng were introduced into the lineup, while forward James Gale was also handed a start.

Captain Ollie Clarke and forward Rhys Oates failed to make the 18-man squad through injury, while midfielder Kieran Wallace was amongst the substitutes.   

Stags dominated possession in the opening moments and found their reward after only six minutes.

Boateng, bursting through the middle, found Lucas Akins inside the box and the frontman showed real strength to hold off his man before backheeling to the advancing Boateng, who rifled beyond Dale ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell from 15 yards.

Stags continued to boss the contest and Gale was next to try his luck when his well-hit 25-yard strike stung the palms of O’Donnell.

On 12 minutes, Akins fancied his chances from the edge of the box but his low right-footed effort skewed wide.

At the other end, defender Elliott Hewitt showed why he has received so many plaudits this season by catching speedy forward D’Mani Mellor as Dale looked to break, and shepherd the ball out of play for a Stags’ goal kick.

Rochdale’s first meaningful attack came after 33 minutes.

Dale midfielder Danny Lloyd cut infield from 25 yards before advancing to strike wide with his left boot.

Stags injury troubles continued when George Maris was forced off through injury on 38 minutes, with Kieran Wallace his like-for-like replacement in defensive midfield.

Two minutes later, veteran forward Ian Henderson looked set to open fire after breaching the Stags’ defence, but  commanding defender Alfie Kilgour  came to the rescue with a vital intervention on the edge of the six-yard box.

Dale were slowly getting a foothold in the contest and equalised on 43 minutes.

Following a throw-in on the left flank, full-back Owen Dodgson played a neat one-two before breaking into the box and plant a low drive into the far bottom corner.

Stags almost replied immediately when Davis Keillor-Dunn curled narrowly wide from 20 yards.

Mansfield should have restored their advantage in first-half stoppage time, but Dale had O’Donnell to thank.

Gale’s speed and skill saw him drift by the Dale defence on the right-flank to send a delightful cross into the six-yard box.

But Quinn’s strike from ten yards was denied by the trailing legs of O’Donnell.

Stags attempted to rediscover their attacking impetus in the second-half and O’Donnell again made a smart stop to keep the scores level on 55 minutes.

Quinn released Davis Keillor-Dunn through the middle whose rasping left-footed hit was expertly turned behind by the visitors’ shot-stopper.

And the in-form Dale goalkeeper was again the hero on the hour-mark.

Wallace unleashed a vicious hit from the edge of the box, but O’Donnell got enough on it to tip behind.

As the heavens opened, Stags upped the gears and Gale went close with a low attempt which flew off target after Boateng’s neat pass.

There was seemingly no way through as O’Donnell then made a double save to prevent a Stags’ lead on 66 minutes.

First, he denied Boateng’s furious 20-yard effort and then showed great reflexes to stop the follow-up attempt from Keillor-Dunn on the left of the box.

Boateng was mightily close to putting Stags ahead on 71 minutes.

Twisting and turning inside a highly-congested box, the midfielder curled a left-footed hit which skimmed narrowly beyond the angle.

Defender James Perch received the game’s first yellow card for a late challenge on the advancing Abraham Odoh.

In a rare Rochdale attack, Hewitt was Stags’ saviour from preventing the visitors from taking the upper hand.

Dale countered and Ian Henderson was a stride away from advancing one-on-one with Pym, but Hewitt’s last-ditch challenge prevented a certain shot at goal.

Stags made a double change on 78 minutes as Jason Law and Callum Johnson were introduced for Elliott Hewitt and James Gale before Danny Johnson replaced Stephen Quinn four minutes later.

One Call Stadium was aghast a minute later when Rochdale somehow prevened the ball from crossing the line.

Kilgour’s header looked destined to float over the line, but Rochdale managed to clear, with Keillor-Dunn set to score with a follow-up.

Stags had a let-off of their own a minute later.

Mellor cut through the middle as Dale broke forward and smashed his effort against the woodwork.

Despite Stags trying to mount a late flurry of attacks, Dale defended well to hang on for a point.

STAGS: Pym, Hewitt (Law 78), Kilgour, Perch, Bowery, Maris (Wallace 38), Boateng, Quinn (D. Johnson 82), Keillor-Dunn, Akins, Gale (C. Johnson 78)

UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Harbottle, Abdullah

ROCHDALE: O’Donnell, Keohane, Taylor, Ebanks-Landell, Dodgson, Lloyd (Graham 87), Brierley, Kelly, Mellor, Odoh, Henderson

UNUSED SUBS: Eastwood, Seriki, Ball, Quigley, Mullarkey, Ehimamiegho

REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse
ATTENDANCE: 6,708 (423 Rochdale fans)

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