A 33rd MINUTE red card for striker Matt Green led to Mansfield Town’s downfall on an afternoon of high controversy at Ebbsfleet United today.
There was nothing in the game on an unseasonly hot afternoon when Green was red-carded for an alleged elbow on home defender Paul Lorraine, who had already clashed with Green and Matt Rhead in an ill-tempered first half.
But Stags were furious that the only person who saw the elbow was the fourth official with the other officials well placed.
Nevertheless, Stags’ 10 men still went in ahead thanks to a Louis Briscoe penalty three minutes from the break.
But United, who had won just one of their first seven games, made the extra man count in the second half on a stiflingly hot afternoon as they bagged two goals in as many minutes through Nathan Elder and Paul Walsh on 58 and 60 minutes.
It was all over when Liam Enver-Marum bagged an 81st minute spot kick with Stags’ boss Paul Cox sent to the stands for kicking the ball away in anger.
The Stags, who had won four of their previous five matches, were unchanged for the third game on the trot.
After six minutes of feeling each other out, Stags won a free kick on the left which Murray floated in, but was cleared.
Lorraine and Green were lectured after a tackle turned into a wrestling match on the ground but the cards stayed in the pocket.
Fleet also defended the visitors’ first corner as Geohaghon’s header was shepherded out for a goalkick.
United’s first threat came on 15 minutes when Stags conceded a central free kick 20 yards from goal. But the wall did its job to block both Enver-Marum’s kick and his follow-up.
Rhead was booked on 21 minutes after clashing with Lorraine in the corner.
Stags forced a second corner on 24 minutes to no avail as we reached the midway stage of the half with neither keeper having had a save to make.
Tempers flared yet again in the hot sunshine as Green reacted angrily to Lorraine steaming into his back for a header by catching him with his elbow which left the defender sprawled on the pitch.
The referee showed Green a 33rd minute red card sparking furious scenes on the Mansfield bench.
On 35 minutes Elder lofted a hopeful attempt just wide from a distance, the ball passing wide of the angle in the first goal attempt of the contest.
Marriott clawed away the home side’s first corner on 39 minutes.
But the 10 men grabbed a 42nd minute lead from their second spot kick success of the week.
Meikle’s burst of pace in into the box caught out Bellamy who brought him down. And Briscoe made no mistake as he slammed the kick home down the centre.
Elder went down in the box in stoppage time asking for a penalty. But the referee disagreed and 10-men Stags went in ahead.
Folkes replaced Bellamy for the second half for United.
Howe sent a dipping shot just over the top from 25 yards in the first threat of the second half.
Soon after Rhead controlled and spun well before hitting a decent shot across the face of the home goal.
But poor marking by the visitors gifted Ebbsfleet a 58th minute equaliser.
Howe sent in a superb cross from the right but no defender was near Elder as he powered a close range header past an exposed Marriott.
Two minutes later the game had turned firmly on its head as Stags failed to clear a home corner and Walsh was on hand to ran the ball high into the net from eight yards.
Stags responded with a bold triple substitution, sending on Wright, Speight and Roberts for Meikle, Briscoe and Rhead, restoring two up front.
Barrett wasn’t far wide with a low snapshot after Marriott and Geohaghon got in each other’s way.
Four successive long throws by Geohaghon yielded a corner which Edwards easily gathered.
More Stags pressure ended with Speight making space in the box on the right bt dragging a low shot into the sidenetting.
However, it was all over for the 10 men with nine minutes to go.
Elder tried to bustle his way past Sutton on the by-line and was brought down to earn a decisive penalty.
Enver-Marum sent Marriott the wrong way and Fleet had their second win of the season in the bag.
Stags boss Cox continued to harangue the officials and was dismissed from the bench before play restarted.
Ebbsfleet were now enjoying their afternoon and pulling Stags all over the park.
And there was a let-off on 87 minutes when Enver-Marum fired home a low pull-back from Blake only to see an offside flag raised.
Four minutes were added on at the end during which a superb searching through ball from Roberts sent Speight racing away to fire in a good shot which Edwards beat away to his right.
EBBSFLEET: Edwards, Blake, Ada, Walsh, Lorraine, Enver-Marum, Marwa (Phipp 73), Elder (Williams 87), Howe, Barrett, Bellamy (Folkes HT). Subs not used: Menz, Aseez.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Jones, Geohaghon, Daniel; Briscoe (Wright 65), Howell, Murray, Meikle (Speight 65); Green, Rhead (Roberts 65). Subs not used: Thompson, Clements.
REFEREE: Chris Knowles.