Mans­field con­tinue to build up steam

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By John Brind­ley To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

MANS­FIELD boss Paul Cox wishes the sea­son would stretch on and on into the sum­mer af­ter see­ing his in-form Stags de­mol­ish the now for­mer league lead­ers.

Headed goals from Martin Ri­ley, Matt Rhead and Ryan Tafa­zolli burst Rochdale’s bub­ble af­ter the vis­i­tors had gone 539 min­utes with­out con­ced­ing a goal.

Tellingly, two came from cor­ners and the other from a free kick from a near iden­ti­cal po­si­tion as Mans­field’s phys­i­cal dom­i­nance brought re­wards in the last 20 min­utes.

“We are play­ing well at the minute and on this roll we are a match for any­body,” beamed Cox, who was widely ex­pected to lose his job af­ter a 3-0 beat­ing at Rochdale on Box­ing Day.

“We work on our set pieces but will take the goals how­ever they come.We seem to do well in the sec­ond half of the sea­son and the longer the sea­son goes on the bet­ter.

“We were up against a good Rochdale side, one I ex­pect to get pro­mo­tion quite com­fort­ably.We put on our heads on the line.”

Re­al­is­ti­cally, Cox and Stags will have to call their sig­nif­i­cant re­vival quits af­ter 46 games de­spite a math­e­mat­i­cal chance of mak­ing the play offs.

There was no doubt­ing the mer­its of this im­pres­sive vic­tory how­ever as the Stags drew the st­ing from a lively Rochdale in the first half be­fore tak­ing com­mand.

The vis­i­tors will rue an al­most ca­sual chip from Ian Hen­der­son against a post af­ter 31 min­utes af­ter Lewis Price had de­nied Scott Ho­gan. That was one of sev­eral oc­ca­sions when they promised a break­through.

Dale’s de­fen­sive record of five suc­ces­sive clean sheets was also in reg­u­lar dan­ger, how­ever, be­fore an in­swing­ing cor­ner from James Jen­nings was glanced home by de­fender Martin Ri­ley at the near post in the 71st minute.

Joe Raf­ferty came clos­est to an equaliser with a mis­cue that curled onto the Mans­field bar be­fore Rhead made the points safe and Tafa­zolli added salt to the wounds with em­phatic header.

“It’s not a bad day, it’s a great day – that’s just the game of foot­ball,” in­sisted Rochdale boss Keith Hill. “It was a dif­fi­cult pitch, against a dif­fi­cult team and we coped well against their phys­i­cal pres­ence for most of the game. Our chances came in the first half when a bet­ter pass or a bet­ter de­ci­sion could have seen us in front.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to con­cede three goals from set pieces where we have been ex­cep­tion­ally strong all sea­son.

“But we’ll put this be­hind us and I’m look­ing for­ward now to the Easter fix­tures.”

STAR MAN MARTIN RI­LEY Mansfi

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