Exeter City matchwinner Reuben Reid was accused of being a cheat by furious Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans as he won and netted a penalty seven minutes into added time to give the Grecians an unlikely 2-1 win in this afternoon’s big game
Reid seemed to go down easily under Rhys Bennett’s challenge and the referee awarded the kick.
It was a late kick in the teeth for a Mansfield side that were deservedly still 1-0 up with six minutes to go.
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“It was gut-wrenching. We deserved to win the game,” said Evans.
“They’ve had a bit of a go second half and their keeper has made a fantastic save to stop us winning it, then the referee gives a penalty.
“We’ve just looked at it back and it’s as I thought first time, he just plays it past Rhys and goes over. It’s not a penalty.
“I’ll say it now, the FA can do what they like, the player has cheated and there is no place for it in the game.
“It makes it harder to take. We’ve lost a game we should have won. We dominated for long spells.
“Exeter were on the rack for long spells but they have come up the tunnel as if they are celebrating promotion. That will hurt us all tonight but we’ll go forward and learn from it.”
He added: “It was played like a cup tie, unfortunately we got a referee today who was absolutely shocking from start to finish.
“They couldn’t deal with us and that was why they were giving so many fouls away. I am not casting any aspirations on the referee, but you look at that last penalty and you think, oh dear, is it me? Maybe it’s just my thought process right after a game?
“I suggest that Troy Brown should have been off the pitch after 10 minutes for smashing Danny Rose in the face with an elbow. The referee said he was protecting himself which is a strange one.”
The defeat left Stags four points off the play-offs with just six games to go.
“There’s not a lot I can say to the players right now – they are as down as you could be, the supporters the same,” he said.
“We’ve lost a big game. But, play like that, we will win more games. I am not fearing the next six games.
“We’ve dropped six points to Exeter this season but smashed them twice – sometimes that happens. I congratulate them. They are a good team but they had a bit of help today. We will keep fighting.”