ROCHDALE 0, MANSFIELD TOWN 1
Substitute Jordan Bowery brushed aside the disappointment of losing his first-team place as he was Mansfield Town’s matchwinner at Rochdale.
The former Aston Villa striker had only been on the field for eight minutes when he struck the late winner to put the Stags’ League Two promotion bid back on track after two defeats.
The losses at Tranmere and Leyton Orient had followed a 14 game unbeaten league run between end of October and early March which had lifted them from the relegation places to play-off spots.
Bowery struck his seventh goal of the season, stealing in at the far post to fire Ollie Hawkins’ low cross into the roof of the net.
Nigel Clough’s side had not long before gone close when on-loan Hibernian player Jamie Murphy struck the upright as it looked to be another frustrating night.
It was a big win for the Stags who remain 10th but have games in hand on teams above them and are well placed to claim a top-seven spot.
Clough praised his matchwinning substitute, saying: “Jordan was disappointed to be left out as he was in the side during our good run, but he has done his chances to be involved on Saturday the world of good.
“It was a vital win as we are in the middle of five away games in a row. It was bad enough to lose the last two games in which we conceded six goals. We changed to three at the back, were nice and solid, kept a clean sheet and were always liable to nick a goal.”
Struggling Rochdale, who created little, extended their winless run to six matches, though they remain nine points clear of the relegation places.
Manager Robbie Stockdale added: “When Nigel and I shook hands he said a draw would have been a fair result, and I would not disagree.
“I am gutted for the players who gave a wholehearted performance. Mansfield are a good team and have a Premier League player (Matty Longstaff) in midfield, but I do not think we deserved to lose.”