STAGS STUNNED IN FEISTY CLASH

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tim Mor­riss

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.”

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