SWABEY GAFFE ANGERS EVANS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Stephen Thirkill

FU­RI­OUS Steve Evans pointed the fin­ger of blame di­rectly at “atro­cious” ref­eree Lee Swabey after Mans­field Town’s play­off dream ef­fec­tively ended fol­low­ing this home de­feat to Portsmouth.

Evans was fum­ing after the of­fi­cial showed only a yel­low card to Matt Clarke, de­spite him hack­ing down Danny Rose when he was last man.

Pompey poured fur­ther salt into the wounds when Carl Baker scored his ninth of the sea­son to wrap up the points.

Evans said: “I have to be care­ful what I say but that was an atro­cious ref­er­ee­ing per­for­mance. You al­ways look at re­ac­tions, and I look at their cen­tre-half throw­ing his hands on his head – he thought he was on his way and so did their bench.

“Paul Cook said to me at the end that was the worst de­ci­sion he'd seen in his ca­reer, and I think I join him. But they will give him another game next week.

“This is a ref­eree I was con­cerned about as he gave an atro­cious de­ci­sion with a penalty at Ex­eter last week. It’s laugh­able.

“It's hard to take. But I am proud of the play­ers and the sup­port­ers.”

It was a piv­otal de­ci­sion, which Pompey boss Paul Cook ad­mit­ted Swabey had got wrong.

“Matt Clarke had to go, the ref­eree got the big de­ci­sion wrong and it’s a tough one to get wrong for peo­ple in this sta­dium,” he said.

“You feel sick if it goes against you and if it goes for you then you feel that the game is go­ing to go your way.

“There was an edge to the game and we are de­lighted to win. It’s was fan­tas­tic to get a 12th away win and I’m pleased for the play­ers.

“We will still keep be­liev­ing we can win the league. We are in with a chance.

“This is an in­tim­i­dat­ing place to come and the play­ers have han­dled the pres­sure well.”

Alex Mac­Don­ald curled an early free-kick over as Mans­field en­joyed the bet­ter of the open­ing 15 min­utes.

Gareth Evans dragged an ef­fort wide be­fore Jake Kean beat away a pow­er­ful ef­fort from Kal Nai­smith on 37 min­utes.

The game turned in the Hamp­shire side’s favour when Clarke es­caped a red card just after the restart.

Rhys Ben­nett had a goal chalked off for off­side, be­fore Rose headed over dur­ing a good spell of pres­sure by Stags.

And Baker made them pay when he curled an ef­fort past Kean on 57 min­utes against the run of play.

Mac­Don­ald went close with a header, be­fore he was de­nied by a good low save by David Forde.

Matt Green blew a glo­ri­ous chance to level for the Stags when he chipped the ball over Forde and the cross­bar on 80 min­utes.

Mans­field now sit 11th with only a trip to Crawley to come.

PICTURES: ProS­ports/ Aaron Lup­ton

ALL SMILES: Portsmouth mid­fielder Carl Baker cel­e­brates the open­ing goal STAR MAN CHRIS­TIAN BURGESS Portsmouth

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