STAGS STUNNED IN FEISTY CLASH
DEFIANT Mansfield manager Adam Murray stood by his players and turned on referee Mark Haywood after the nine-man Stags lost their unbeaten home record six minutes into injury time in a bad-tempered game.
The Stags looked like they had rescued a point when defender Ryan Tafazolli lashed in a 20-yard drive ten minutes from time to cancel out Jermaine Easter’s opener,
But Matt Taylor headed James Clarke’s late cross past injured keeper Brian Jensen to clinch tenman Rovers’ third successive away win.
Murray said: “I am very angry and frustrated, but not at my team’s performance. We did more than enough to win the game and didn't deserve to lose.
“Credit to the players and the fans, they stuck with us all the way through and that epitomised what we are about – everybody in it together.
“We did our best to win, but for me we’ve been beaten by an outside source.
“I said to the lads at half-time that the way this referee was going, he wanted to equal it up as he didn’t have control of the game. He did that.
“The two lads [Krystian Pearce and Tom Lockyer] were tussling and I think a word to both of them to calm them down would have been sufficient.
“It looked like the stage was too big and he sent him [Pearce] off for something.”
The Stags, who had won their last three matches, fell behind to Easter’s 15th-minute close-range finish. Easter was then sent off in first half injury-time for an attempted headbutt on Jamie McGuire after the visitors’ striker dived trying to win a penalty.
Mansfield failed to make their numerical advantage pay and were reduced to nine men.
First Pearce was dismissed for flicking a boot at Lockyer after the Rovers defender fell to the ground.
Thirteen minutes later home full-back Nicky Hunt received his second yellow card for bundling over Stuart Sinclair in the centre circle as the visitors broke clear.
Rovers boss Darrell Clarke, a former Mansfield player, admitted his side had played better as they secured their fourth straight win.
He said: “It was a strange game. We were lacklustre from the first minute to the last if I am honest.
“It wasn’t the performance I was looking for, but it was certainly the result I wanted. Sometimes in this game you have got to win ugly.
“I had a moan at the players when we lost five games that we hadn’t lost by big margins and that we hadn’t won ugly. “It was a scruffy three points and I am pleased, but we are certainly better than what we showed.
“When Mansfield went down to nine men it seemed as though we were waiting for them to equalise. “We were sloppy at times, but credit to my players because we had a response when they equalised.”