Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox was seething over referee Andy Haines and his assistants as 10-men Stags clung on for a hard-earned 0-0 draw at Bury tonight.
Cox was sent to the stand at the end of an incredible 10th minute added on after seeing the referee turn down a certain penalty for Stags and send off John Dempster for his thunderous 62nd minute challenge on Shaun Harrad.
To make matters worse, Stags look set to be without Martin Riley with a long term injury and will also lose fellow defenders Dempster and, after a fifth booking, James Jennings for Saturday’s home game with Plymouth.
Cox was left sat between two Stags fans in the stand at the end, taking a tirade of abuse from home fans.
“The fourth official said I called him a cheat, which I didn’t,” said Cox. “The referee came across and, as usual, takes their side of the argument.
“I was sent to the stands. But in those situations I am always going to back my team and back my players.
“I thought it was a very very poor refeereing performance. Sometimes people have to put their egos away and understand this is a passionate business. You come across some people who are egotistical and they can’t accept your opinion.
“Things were getting heated on both benches, not just ours.
“It got a bit heated with one of their fans on the way up. He was passionate about his club too and a few words were exchanged. A couple of Stags fans told me to sit between them as things were getting a bit heated in that part of the stand.”
On Dempster’s dismissal, he said he would be looking at an appeal.
He said: “I don’t think it was a sending-off. I thought it was a good tackle. If we can’t make those sort of tackles we won’t have a game.
“It looked to me like he won the ball. It was hard but fair. If he’d gone through him at knee-high level you’d have no complaints from me. He cleanly went through the ball and we will appeal.
“Demps is not a nasty player. He is an honest, full-blooded player. If I look back at it and have got it wrong I will be the first to apologise.
“There were some unsavoury moments near the end and some cheap shots at us out there.”
Ollie Palmer looked to be clearly brought down in the box in the first half but a free kick was given outside.
“The penalty decision was just another bad decision in a bad 90 minutes,” said Cox.
“It was a battling performance. So credit to the boys for working hard and a pat on the back, too, for our supporters for the way they got behind us.
“Before the sending-off we had some good chances and need to be more ruthless. I never thought we looked like conceding and we were probably the only side that were going to go on and score.
Just to crown a night of woe, Stags lost central defender Martin Riley to injury and Cox said: “It looks quite a serious one. Something popped in his Achilles and he could be out for a while.”