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'Game-changing decisions' altered course of cup tie - gaffer

16 January 2018

Stags' boss Steve Evans is proud of his players for their performance in this evening's Emirates FA Cup third round replay defeat to Cardiff City, but was left frustrated by two big decisions which went against his side in the 4-1 loss.

Bluebirds' centre-half Bruno Ecuele Manga put the visitors ahead in the first half before Stags' top scorer Danny Rose equalised within a minute to ensure the sides were level at the break.

Our Championship opponents then ultimately ran out as winners with three second half goals – two courtesy of winger Junior Hoilett and one from forward Anthony Pilkington.

And reflecting on tonight's Emirates FA Cup exit, the boss believes Cardiff's first goal should have been ruled out for a foul in the build-up and Hoilett – who went on to score two second half goals – should have seen red for a two-footed challenge on midfielder Alex MacDonald.

"We've looked at it back, the first goal's a clear foul and how they've not had a red card in the first half is beyond me. If that's not a red card, we give the game up," the Stags' chief said.

"The first goal shouldn't stand but I'm proud of the players. It was a proper cup tie. They get a bit of good fortune to go in front; it's a scuffed throw-in that lands at the man's feet and they've got good movement thereafter.

"I think when you look at the goal as well, it's a clear push by big [Sean] Morrison who puts it back in the box.

"Why it's not a red card, I know I keep going on about it but they're game-changing decisions.

"It's a red card all day. That's a game changer, it's a cup tie changer. We're out the cup and we have to live by it."

Steve Evans, manager

"He's straight over the ball. We took his excuse during the game when he got word back to his fourth that it was a slip. Slip? That's not a slip; that's just high, late and over the ball.

"It's a red card all day. That's a game changer, it's a cup tie changer. We're out the cup and we have to live by it."

Regardless of the two 'game-changing' decisions, the gaffer believes his side should have been heading into the half-time interval with a lead after a 'dominant' first half display.

"I think it was harsh to be 1-1 at half-time, we should've been in front. We dominated it. We were dominating the second half in terms of territorially and with the ball and the breaking.

"They go 2-1 in front and it's the quick goal, the third one, that kills the cup tie.

"In the second period when they get the two quick goals, that allows them to get their good players' foot on the ball. Neil Warnock can say what he likes, it's a proper cup tie at 1-1.

"I think he's fortunate to be 1-1, fortunate to have 11 men and they're the decisions you need sometimes in the cup. We spoke about people just doing their jobs; Cardiff players have just done their jobs."

The former Leeds United manager praised the support inside One Call Stadium as over 5,000 Stags' fans turned out to roar on his side against the Bluebirds.

"The supporters were incredible, they were fantastic. I Neil's words to me at the kick-off were 'this is a real cup tie atmosphere'.

"As opposed to at Cardiff where – am I allowed to say it was like a morgue? – well, it was like a morgue! There was no noise.

"It was a fantastic atmosphere, the people of Mansfield turned out and they deserve better tonight.

"They deserve better and I think when we go away and look at the footage, we'll be proud of our players."

Supporters can login to iFollow Stags to view the manager's full post-match interview.


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