Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray slammed the costly decisions made by Krystian Pearce and Mal Benning to concede penalties in today’s 2-1 defeat at Hartlepool United.
Pearce was red-carded for his trip to gift United the opening goal.
Then, after Junior Daniel had levelled for the 10 men, Benning conceded the winning spot kick, though Stags believed the challenge was outside the box.
On Pearce’s red card, he said: “It was stupid. I won’t hold anything back on that. It’s not the first time it’s happened.
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“It’s a poor decision and it’s one of those, if you get yourself into a bad defensive position, okay, it happens, just let the kid score and we’ll go with 11 men as with 11 men there was only one winner. With 10 men there was only one winner.
“But two decisions absolutely killed us and it’s not just this game. We lose him now for other games and it’s selfish to be honest. You don’t have to make those decisions.
“That’s probably about 48 games he’ll be out the number of red cards he’s had!”
He added: “You have to learn, if you don’t learn things have to change. “You only get so many bites of the cherry. It is costing us as it’s such fine lines.
“Our performances have been good enough to win games and we come out losing. It is gutting.”
On Benning’s penalty, he said: “It can’t keep happening. These are game-changers, especially when you’ve got yourself back into the game and you’re on top and I could see us going on to win it with 10 men.
“We should not put ourselves in a situation where there is even a risk.
“I don’t think it was inside the box, but we should not put ourselves in risk to give the referee a chance to make a decision and we’ve absolutely shot ourselves in the head four million times this season.”
Murray continued: “I am confused at the minute. I asked for another big performance today and I got it.
“We have created enough clear cut chances to win five games, but two decisions have cost us the game. That’s the story of this period we are in. At the minute we can’t buy a win.
“We are so close, yet so far and I am a bit lost as it’s tough to put your finger on how you change that. It’s a fine line.
“I would like sometimes to be able to turn round and say they were better than us today and they beat us. But I can’t as I haven’t come across a team yet who can say they battered us.
“Our biggest downfalls this season have been our naivety and our decision-making.
“I can’t teach decision-making on the training ground. You hope the individual learns from their mistakes.
“I know a lot of them are young kids and it’s tough. They have to man up quickly as it’s points we are losing at the minute, and they are points we should have on the board.”
Murray has set his side a target of 60 points for the season, but knows how close they have been to something much bigger.
He said: “Last season I was lying through my teeth saying we are not far away knowing we were awful. Now I am standing here saying I honestly feel we are a whisker from being a very good team, but at the same a whisker away from losing every game.
“It’s my head on the block as you’re not winning football matches, I get that, though I don’t think my head is on the block as I think people see we are very close to being a good team. It’s frustrating to be in this position when a few weeks ago we were fifth.
“If we can get to 60 points I think it would be our highest finish for 12 years, which you have to say would be a success with what we are working with. But it’s gutting as we have been in the top 10 for seven months and it’s tough to take.”