EVANS’ REF RAGE DESPITE LATE WIN
ALEX MacDonald’s brilliant swerving 25-yard winner six minutes from time preserved Mansfield manager Steve Evans’ faith in a football god.
The midfielder gave the visitors their deserved reward for an excellent performance – but two controversial decisions in a frantic finale had Evans venting his considerable touchline fury right until the end.
Evans was apoplectic when referee Nicholas Kinseley waved away penalty claims after Kane Hemmings was sent tumbling, then could barely watch when Coventry were awarded a free-kick in the last seconds of added time.
Confident goalkeeper Conrad Logan saved well from Jodi Jones to ensure justice was finally done.
“To not give that penalty was distasteful,” Evans said. “Then we were a minute and a quarter over when the free-kick was saved.
“We were second best for 15 minutes but, from then on, there was only one good team on the pitch. I didn’t think Coventry created a real chance.
“We were still adventurous in the second half but it was never going to be easy to see the game out.
“It was a great strike by Macca – the ball has swerved twice in the air.”
After a storming Coventry start in which both strikers, Jordan Ponticelli and Marc McNulty, went close, Mansfield were hugely impressive.
The visitors created four chances in one golden six-minute first-half spell with Lee Burge denying CJ Hamilton and Paul Anderson, Hemmings shooting just wide and Danny Rose brilliantly hitting a post.
It was a mixed afternoon for the Stags striker currently being linked with a move to the Ricoh Arena. His competitive instincts and skill worried the best-performing defence in League Two but he was booked for simulation in the second half.
Mansfield’s domination continued after the break with Hamilton sending a shot across goal after a driving run into the box and MacDonald sweeping a 52nd-minute effort onto the roof of the net after an eyecatching passing move.
Then Hemmings highlighted his worth at both ends of the pitch.
He held his head in his hands in the 69th minute when his lovely curling effort drifted just wide before being back on his own goal line ten minutes later to nod clear a header by substitute Max Biamou.
That was a rare Sky Blues chance before they launched a furious response to MacDonald’s goal.
Logan dived at Ponticelli’s feet to prevent the striker getting a clear shot at goal before the late drama left manager Mark Robins with a far different view of events.
“We had to deal with a few things that were below the belt – and, as for Steve Evans, he has to live with what he does on the touchline,” he said.
“We are the best side in the division but need to work out how to finish moves off.”
STAR MAN ALEX MacDONALD Mansfield KING OF THE SWINGERS: Alex MacDonald celebrates his late winner for Mansfield