Mansfield Town’s Ryan Tafazolli should have been sent off, says Luton Town matchwinner Craig Mackail-Smith

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Luton Town matchwinner Craig Mackail-Smith admitted he was surprised that Mansfield Town’s Ryan Tafazolli wasn’t sent-off for the foul that gave him the crucial penalty in yesterday’s 1-0 win.

Tafazolli appeared to be the last man as he hauled down the former Scottish international star, Mackail-Smith making him pay from the spot.

“I was just about to pull the trigger and he’s pulled me,” said Mackail-Smith.

“It was nice to have the penalty and score as, in those positions sometimes, you get fouled and you don’t score and you get really disappointed.

“I took a touch across him so I could get a shot away as it felt like the ball was too straight.

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“I was surprised that there wasn’t a red card to be honest as he was the only one who was chasing me down.

“That’s the referee’s decision to show him a yellow, but it was nice that the ball went in the back of the net or it would have left a bit of a sour taste.”

Once the kick was awarded, there was no way Mackail-Smith was letting anyone else have the honours.

“I have belief and confidence in myself that I will step up and score,” he smiled.

“Penalties are for strikers as goals add up at the end of the season. I believe in myself that when the ball is put on the spot I am going to beat the keeper.

Earlier on he had seen a spectacular overhead finish ruled out for offside.

“It was disappointing as I thought I was onside,” he said.

“I know that I started offside when Josh (McQuoid) cut in, but I made up the ground to get back onside and when I hit the shot and it went in, the defender was behind me.

“So it was disappointing the decision went against me and maybe they could give the benefit of the doubt to the striker, but it’s gone now and the goal didn’t stand.”

Mansfield piled on the pressure in the second half and were unlucky not to grab a point.

Mackail-Smith continued: “We were under a lot of pressure near the end and the boys stood up to that.

“In previous games we’ve conceded goals in the last minute, so it’s a great confidence-booster for everyone knowing we can go the full 95 minutes and keep a clean sheet.

“I can’t really affect it too much and sometimes I’m just standing there watching and praying that ball doesn’t go near the goal.

“But they stood up fantastically to the aerial assault towards the end. It shows we can concentrate for that amount of time and win games.

“First 60 minutes I thought we dominated the game and it was disappointing to maybe not get more than a one goal lead.

“On the other hand Mansfield won 4-0 the other day against Crawley. So we know they can attack. I think the defence stood up well and it’s a good building block for us for next week.”

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