Rose missed pen 82.
Attendance: 1457 (121 from Rochdale)
Date: 8 August 2017
STAGS OUT OF LEAGUE CUP
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town bowed out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, beaten 1-0 at home by Rochdale. The Stags have failed to get past the first round of this competition since 2006. The only goal game after 17 minutes when Callum Camps fired a magnificent shot into the top corner from 25 yards when a corner was cleared to him. Rochdale created very few chances on the evening as the Stags defence impressed, in particular last season’s consistent pair Rhys Bennett and Krystian Pearce, while at the other end the Stags should have at least taken the game to extra time with Paul Anderson so unlucky to see his shot hit the post, and then late on Danny Rose missed a penalty, a poor scuffed effort as his low shot straight down the middle was saved by the trailing legs of the diving keeper. Against a side as good as Rochdale, who just missed out on the League One play-offs last season, this was a decent performance from the Stags but it lacked that quality in the final third. The delivery from set pieces and crosses in general was disappointing, from the likes of Byrom, Benning, and others. Anderson impressed in midfield (particularly in the first half), as did Digby, who showed great energy from box to box. Sterling-James showed some great touches, down the wings as opposed to up front, and posed the Rochdale defence plenty of problems especially in a purple patch in the second half to earn his sponsor’s man of the match award. Olejnik had as quiet a night as he can expect all season, and had no chance with the goal (plus one cross that sailed over him and hit the bar).
A word on the weather and on the pitch. It had rained hard all day in Mansfield, since early morning, yet the pitch coped superbly thanks to the new drainage put in over the summer. Paul Broughton showed me a video of the water from the drainage system pouring away on the Bishop Street side, quite remarkable. There is no doubt whatsoever that this game would never have gone ahead last season or any previous season, and the £100,000 spent on the pitch by John and Carolyn Radford, and the excellent work of groundsman Mez Merriman and his team, has turned the pitch into one that wouldn’t be out of place in the Premier League.
Steve Evans made six changes to the side that drew at Crewe. He did say that if that had been a league game, it would not have been the team he would have chosen, though he did not elaborate on who would or would not have played. In came Olejnik in goal, Bennett at right back, Pearce at centre half, Digby in midfield, and up front Sterling-James and Spencer. Anderson was captain. It was a 4-4-2 formation, with a flat midfield 4 (as opposed to a diamond formation) of Atkinson (right), Digby, Byrom, Anderson (left).
I saw Rochdale last season against Carlisle in the FA Cup and they were excellent against a Carlisle team in top form, comfortably brushing them aside. It was no surprise to me that they went so close to getting in the League One Play-offs. On the bench was Calvin Andrew, scorer of the Stags winner at Chesterfield a few years ago. The referee in that game by the way was Bobby Madley, brother of the referee here Andy Madley.
The started the game with Spencer and Sterling-James pressing hard, not giving the Rochdale back line time to play the ball around. It was noticeable in the second half, that the strikers no longer did that, and Rochdale, with a one goal lead, were allowed to simply play the ball around the back line under no pressure.
In addition to the rain, there was a wind down the pitch, which Rochdale had behind them in the first half, and Mansfield had in the second half.
Good defending from Pearce inside the opening minute as Camps got to the byline and Pearce did enough to put him out of his stride.
On 4 minutes, Atkinson played a back pass to Olejnik who came out and smashed his clearance at Henderson,it bounced back behind Olejnik who was able to retrieve.
On 7 minutes, a great break by Atkinson, intercepting a crossfield pass, he got to the byline, pulled across the six yard box and through everyone with Anderson just unable to get it. Good play from Atkinson and you can’t ask more than him to put it into the corridor of uncertainty.
When players slid along the ground, there was some surface water flying up, but the bounce of the ball was true.
On 14 minutes, a good move from the Stags, Atkinson to Digby, who slid to Anderson on the left, who got the ball onto his right foot and he shot low towards the near post where the keeper saved. A tame shot in truth from Anderson which was probably going just wide.
Rochdale took the lead on 17 minutes. A corner from the left, was headed out by Spencer as far as Camps, 25 yards from goal. He took one touch and fired right into the top right corner. A brilliant strike, no chance for the keeper. Bennett tried to close Camps down but just wasn’t quite there in time. I think it was just one of those great goals that you can’t do much about.
On 22 minutes, a Rochdale cross from the left, and good anticipation by Benning to intercept, though the offside flag was up anyway. At the other end, a poor cross from Benning.
On 25 minutes, a good break from Rathbone down the left for Dale, he cut back on to his left foot past Mirfin and fired wide of the left post.
On 29 minutes, a great ball forward to Sterling-James, who got to the byline and his ball across was put behind for a corner. Anderson took the corner, from the right, it was cleared to Byrom, who played back to Anderson on the right. Anderson chested down, took a touch past a defender, the ball looped up in the air off the defender, and Anderson stretched his left leg to send a fabulous shot which hit the left post with the keeper beaten. It was a terrific effort.
A minute later the Stags went agonisingly close again. A loose square pass from Rochdale left back Ntlhe (pronounced N’Clare) was intercepted by Spencer, 40 yards from goal. Spencer took a couple of touches forward and fired low from 25 yards, just a couple of inches wide of the left post with the keeper at full stretch. Spencer did the right thing taking the shot early, and it was a good effort, just the wrong side of the post.
On 39 minutes, a low shot from Williams was straight at Olejnik from 30 yards. A minute later great defending from Pearce as the ball came in from the right, though it was a howler from the linesman as Rochdale had been more than a yard offside in the build up.
On 44 minutes, Bennett played the ball to Anderson on the left, he got the ball on to his right foot and his shot was blocked.
On 45 minutes at the other end, a good break by Camps who got to the edge of the area but fired in a feeble shot.
The Stags played ok in an even first half against a good League One side, but the teams were separated by the wonderful strike from Camps. The midfield was impressing, as were Bennett and Pearce at the back. The quality of the Stags crossing was poor, notably from Benning, but also others.
Half time 0-1
On 49 minutes, great play by Digby, weaving his way into the area, to Atkinson, 10 yards out on the right, who fired into the side netting.
On 52 minutes, a poor free kick by Anderson, caught by the keeper. So many of the Stags crosses had been too close to the keeper, who’d gobbled them up.
On 54 minutes, brilliant play by Sterling-James, down the right wing to the byline with a stepover, and winning a corner. The corner came out to Benning who fired well wide from 40 yards.
On 57 minutes, Spencer did well to tee up Sterling-James on the edge of the area. Great technique from Sterling-James to get in the shot but it was wide of the left post.
More great play from Sterling-James on 58 minutes, he got to the byline on the right cut inside his defender but his cross unluckily deflected off a defender straight to the keeper.
Sterling-James was having a purple patch, though as a winger rather than as a striker really. Digby was working hard showing good energy.
On 63 minutes, a misplaced cross from Ntlhe floated over Olejnik and hit the bar. It was a poor cross which nearly resulted in a fluke goal. Those are difficult for keepers and I would not blame Olejnik for allowing it to hit the bar.
On 66 minutes, great pace from Sterling-James who then backheeled to Atkinson, who played across to Anderson, whose shot was blocked.
Bennett did well to head away a Rochdale free kick on 68 minutes.
A rare effort from Rochdale on 70 minutes, as Rathbone cut in from the left onto his right foot, and fired into the side netting.
Hamilton replaced Byrom on 70 minutes. Atkinson moved into the middle, Anderson to the right, and Hamilton to the left.
On 72 minutes, Hamilton played into Atkinson, to Digby on the edge of the area. Digby didn’t get a good connection on his shot and a defender’s block also took further pace off the ball as it trickled to the keeper.
A good block by Mirfin on 72 minutes.
On 74 minutes, great pace by Hamilton to get into the area from well inside his own half before squaring it to Sterling-James but he couldn’t get a shot away.
Rose replaced Spencer on 77 minutes.
Potter replaced Anderson on 80 minutes.
The Stags had a golden chance to equalise on 82 minutes. Potter slid a low ball into the box from the right, the ball was half cleared, and Rose was about to take a shot when he was tripped by Canavan. Rose immediately went and claimed the ball to take the penalty himself. But it was a poor scuffed effort as his low shot straight down the middle was saved by the trailing legs of the diving keeper Lillis. After the game, an angry Evans said that Rose won’t be taking another penalty.
On 84 minutes, Bennett cut in from the right and sent in a left-footed shot deflected over the bar.Potter took the resulting corner, Rose headed down and it looked like a great chance for Pearce to fire in from close range but he was tackled as he was shooting. A clinical finisher would get the shot in quicker there.
Another chance for the Stags on 87 minutes. Potter’s low corner to the edge of the area found Rose who skied a first time shot over the bar.
Calvin Andrew came on as sub for Rochdale on 90 minutes to good applause. He slotted in at left back!
On 90+1 minutes Rochdale claimed for a penalty but there was nothing in it at all.
On 90+3 minutes, and with seconds running out, Sterling-James did well to win a corner. Olejnik came up for it. But Benning’s corner from the right was beyond the far post and over everyone. That was the last chance for the Stags.
Mansfield completely dominated the second half, and played some good football. But the Stags finishing all night was poor, highlighted by a dreadful penalty from Rose. Against a good League One side in a tight game, you just cannot afford to miss a penalty.
Based on the performances on Tuesday and Saturday, and in pre-season, my team for the game against Forest Green would be:
Bennett, Diamond, Pearce, Benning;
Potter, Digby, Mellis, Anderson;
Man of the match: Sterling-James
Report by: Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Olejnik 6 Had as quiet a night as he can expect all season, and had no chance with the goal (plus one cross that sailed over him and hit the bar).
Bennett 8 Impressed at right back, very solid.
Mirfin 6.5 Did ok, solid enough.
Pearce 8 Several pieces of good defending.
Benning 6.5 Several disappointing crosses, but defended ok.
Atkinson 7 Probably his best performance in a Stags shirt. Involved in several good moves.
Digby 7.5 Showed great energy from box to box.
Byrom 6 Set pieces were disappointing, which was very unusual for him.
Anderson 7.5 Impressed in midfield (particularly in the first half). So unlucky with fabulous shot which hit the left post.
Sterling-James 8 Showed some great touches, down the wings as opposed to up front, and posed the Rochdale defence plenty of problems especially in a purple patch in the second half.
Spencer 6.5 Did ok, holding the ball up well. Good shot, just wide of the post. Good work to tee up a shot for Sterling-James.
Sub Line Up:
Hamilton (for Byrom, 70 mins) - Outstanding run from his own half into the area to set up a chance for Sterling-James.
Rose (for Spencer, 77 mins) - Won the penalty but then missed it with a poor kick.
Potter (for Anderson, 80 mins) - Did well on the right wing, setting up some chances.
Subs not used: Logan, Hunt, Taft, Angol.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-1-4-1): Lillis; Brown, McNulty, Canavan, Ntlhe (Andrew 90); Rafferty; Camps, Williams (Davies 65), Rathbone, Done (Inman 80); Henderson. Subs not used: Collis, Cannon, Morley, Kitching.
Andy Madley (brother of Bobby Madley)