Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft was furious with defender Mal Benning’s 13th minute red card that left Stags short-handed in today’s 1-0 home defeat by table-topping Accrington.
After having Krystian Pearce sent off last weekend, Stags today lost Benning for a nasty high challenge on Billy Kee.
“I was disappointed with the challenge. I’ve had a look at it and it’s a nailed-on sending-off,” said Flitcroft.
“It didn’t look great and it was the right decision. It was a nasty one that could have caused serious injury.
“Mal will be disciplined. We must have discipline and focus as that’s two sendings-off in my five games through lack of discipline. We will sort that out internally.
“You are asking us to defend against one of the best attacking teams in the league with 10 players through a poor decision.
“It lacks discipline to go down to 10 men in a massive game after 15 minutes. We have got to show control and composure in those moments.
“It’s a tackle the referee missed but the linesman saw it and he’s given it. He didn’t have to make that tackle.
“You’re under the cosh after that and it had been probably the best start to a match we’ve had since I came here.
“Mal has to do better and be more professional in his approach.”
Stags had started well enough and Flitcroft said: “We had an intensity. We looked threatening and caused them some real early problems.
“After the red card I thought we got to half-time well. The shape, organisation and structure was good and they were fighting for each other.
“That’s the first time I’ve looked at this group and thought these boys are fighting for each other and the supporters. I have seen real fight today.
“I am encouraged they fought tooth and nail for each other. That’s what I demand as a person. That’s what our supporters demand from the players.”
The winner came on the hour and was a free header from six yards for Seamus Conneely.
“One moment’s lapse of concentration has cost us,” said Flitcroft.
“CJ should have been up the pitch but, down to 10 men, he had to do defensive duties and Conneely has come in and ended up scoring.
“I want accountability and responsibility from my players. We have to see those moments through as Accrington didn’t create a lot.”
He added: “We had good chances ourselves. Hemmings had a great chance he’s go to finish. Could Ricky Miller have gone down when he got tagged in the box? Possibly.
“What was really difficult was listening to Accrington singing ‘we are top of the league’ and banging in the dressing room after the game – what it means to them to go top of the league. It was warranted.
“It’s about the team spirit they’ve built over a period of time and I promise our players we will get that team spirit and that fighting spirit. I have done it at every club I have been at and I believed in it as a player.
“When we get it right we will start driving performances and wins again.
“Our supporters really got behind the team today and there was a real togetherness in the stadium. The fans were brilliant.
“I have told the players to walk out the building with their heads high. They have given it their best shot today.
“We’ve got to be able to do that over 46 games of a season like Accrington have. We need to be consistent.”