Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft said his side had to quickly put the disappointment of losing their unbeaten records in today’s 3-2 defeat at Carlisle United behind them and move on.
Trailing 2-0, Stags had Neal Bishop sent off for a half-time altercation with United’s Danny Grainger and, despite a battling second half, saw their 17-game unbeaten run and unbeaten away record halted.
“It’s an uphill task when you’re 2-0 down with 10 men on this pitch,” said Flitcroft.
“But I have to credit Carlisle as I thought they were really good today. They played with a freedom and were the better team on the day.
“We were protecting a fantastic run of games and our boys had that fight about them. It would have been interesting if we could have kept it at 2-1 a bit longer. It would have become edgy.
“They had a right go but just didn’t affect them enough which is the disappointing aspect of today. Our biggest crime today was not moving the ball quickly enough first half.
“We have to face what’s gone wrong today and focus on the positives.
“We have to flush this out really quickly. I have to forgive the lads and they have to forgive themselves. We need to move on very quickly.”
Flitcroft was unhappy with the officials over Bishop’s dismissal.
Already on a yellow card, Bishop was upset over a bad tackle from Grainger before the break and the two players were allowed to walk off together.
“Neal Bishop is beside himself in there,” said Flitcroft.
“It started just before near the home dug-out. It was a horrendous tackle on Bish, we could all see that.
“Bish was clearly distraught with the decision - it was a bad one.
“The altercation down the tunnel came when the two players walked down by the side of each other, both sledging.
“As they both turned round Grainger has put his face in Bish’s and Bish has put his face in his.
“The fourth official at that point gets really brave and makes a decision instead of doing it before.
“He should have been proactive and got between the players. This is what happens with League Two refereeing.
“Afterwards he said it was nothing to do with them. But you are still in control if you can send a player off in a tunnel.
“He’s been a fantastic player for us this season and he is a big miss.”
Stags were already up against it after letting in two early goals.
“The early goal gave Carlisle an opportunity to sit deep and defend their half of the pitch, which they did really well,” said Flitcroft.
“We just didn’t have enough spark or expertise to go and really undo them.
“They almost played like an away team, but are they quite good on the counter-attack.
“The really important thing when you are a possession-based team like we are and trying to move the ball is you have got to be in position.
“As you are trying to move the ball through the pitch you have to be in good positions for that counter-attack.”
He added: “It’s mad going away from home and you are worried about a counter-attack situation, but that’s how they’ve done us on the first one.
“Then they switched it quickly on the second one and we weren’t in good positions to recover from that.
“You’re 2-0 down, then we had a man sent off at half-time. This is a big pitch, so the lads’ effort second half was a valiant one.”