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Posted onPosted on 17th Oct

Defiant nine-man Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray refused to criticise his players after a goal eight minutes into injury time against Bristol Rovers ended their unbeaten home record this season.

Ryan Tafazolli had fired the nine men level 10 minutes from time with a stunning 20-yards strike to cancel out Jermaine Easter’s 15th minute close-range finish.

But Matt Taylor headed the late winner as Stags keeper Brian Jensen, injured moments earlier, struggled to get across his goal.

Easter was dismissed for an apparent headbut on Jamie McGuire after the visitors striker was penalised for diving and trying to win a penalty.

But in a scrappy game of few chances – the best volleyed over the bar by the Stags’ Matt Green after two minutes – home defenders Krystian Pearce and Nicky Hunt were red carded inside 13 second half minutes.

Pearce seemed to flick out at Lockyer as the Rovers defender was on the ground after a tussle waiting for a corner.

Then Hunt, already booked, was given his marching orders for blocking Stuart Sinclair in the centre circle on a breakaway.

The Stags, who face two tough away trips this week, will miss both Pearce and Hunt through suspension as well as being concerned about the injuries for the

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. We dominated the game in the first half and gave them nothing.

“Second half I thought we started well and then the incident that saw Pearce sent off was laughable.

“It was never a corner and when you see the footage, how the linesman can give that from the other side of the pitch I don’t know.

“I said to the lads at half-time the way this ref is going, he wants to equal it up as he didn’t have control of it. He did that.

“The two lads were tussling and I think a word to both of them to calm them down would have been sufficient. But it looked like the stage was too big today and he sent him off for something.

“I had my two centre forwards playing right back and right midfield, we had Mel Benning who couldn’t walk at the end and he’s in the treatment room now, and Brian Jensen was knocked out. But we showed great fight and great spirit and we are still fourth in the league.

“So I am proud of my lads tonight – the fight and the endeavour they showed.

“If we hadn’t have made our substitutions to try to win the game we would have had to bring Brian off. He’s took a bang to the head and a bang to his knee and he was all over the place to be honest. If Brian is okay he probably saves the effort.

“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 showed so much spirit to get back into it today when everything was against us. They kept going and going, even at the end with nine men we deserved something.

“That’s the fighting spirit that will bring us success ultimately. We forget it, we patch up the wounds, we move on, we have a big game on Tuesday and we’ll be in tomorrow.”