Mansfield Town lost 2-1 at Hartlepool United, conceding two penalties and playing three-quarters of the game with 10 men on Saturday.
The Stags played some good football, created plenty of good chances but only had themselves to blame for giving themselves a mountain to climb by going down to 10 men.
Mansfield started the game brightly and were right on top in the opening 20 minutes. Green came close to putting the Stags in front on eight minutes.
But against the run of play, the game changed dramatically on 24 minutes. Billy Paynter played a superb defence-splitting pass forward for Nicky Featherstone to run onto.
Featherstone got into the area but delayed and delayed taking his shot. Krystian Pearce, pursuing him from behind, had no chance of making a successful tackle and very unwisely brought Featherstone down when he was seven yards from goal as he was about to shoot.
It was a clear penalty and a clear red card for Pearce.
Last week I thought Pearce was unlucky to concede the penalty when James Collins dived; this week it was just stupid play and meant that the Stags would play three-quarters of the game with 10 men.
Paynter took the penalty, firing low to the left, Scott Shearer did well to get a hand on it but couldn’t keep it out.
Former Stag Nathan Thomas showed great disrespect to the Stags fans by celebrating extravagantly and deliberately right in front of them.
It was poor from a player treated well by the fans. He was booked along with Lee Collins who objected to the celebration.
Hartlepool got on top, buoyed by the goal, and nearly made it 2-0 two minutes later as Nathan Thomas played a ball in from the left, Paynter turned and his shot was deflected onto the post by Tafazolli.
Nathan Thomas had a good spell down the left. The Stags regrouped and switched to three at the back.
Mansfield gradually got back on top, despite the man down, and started creating chances again. Hartlepool keeper Trevor Carsen made two great saves, on 63 and 65 minutes, to deny a header from Matt Green and then an even better one from a Tafazolli bullet downward header.
The Stags kept knocking on the door and finally got the equaliser that they richly deserved as Colin Daniel smashed into the roof of the net at the far post following an Adam Chapman long throw which was flicked on by Collins to Green whose shot was blocked into the path of Daniel.
The Stags looked the more likely winners but another penalty changed the game again on 85 minutes.
Carl Magnay skipped past Mal Benning, just inside the box on the right, Benning hung out a leg, and Magnay deliberately went over the leg to win a penalty.
I initially thought it was not quite inside the area, but video evidence suggests it was just inside.
We have in the past had players who have won penalties in this way (Louis Briscoe springs to mind) so I’m not going to start complaining about it. Benning should not have dangled his leg out to allow Magnay to fall over it, and has to shoulder the responsibility and be cleverer than this.
It was gutting for the Stags, who had fought their way back so well. Paynter smashed the penalty down the middle as Shearer dived to his left. The Stags nearly got another deserved equaliser on 89 minutes as Chris Beardsley’s shot from eight yards was again well saved by Carson.
So Mansfield fell to defeat despite a good performance, but this was partially self-inflicted with Pearce getting himself sent-off and Benning dangling out a leg to concede a penalty.
Once again the Stags played with great spirit and there were plenty of good performances, but it’s another defeat, and that’s five defeats from the last seven games. Gutting.
The Stags remain 13th, eight points behind the play-offs and six games to go, starting at Carlisle next weekend.
Last season at Carlisle, we went bottom of the Football League with defeat and Matty Blair was booed by the home fans as he was carried off with an injury that kept him out for nine months. It would be nice to exorcise the memory of that day.
Shearer 6.5 - So close to saving the first penalty. Did not have a single save to make in the match, aside from the two penalties. Handling was fine.
Collins 7 - Defended solidly at right back and then in the middle. Won a header in the build-up to the goal.
Pearce 5 - Very unwise decision for the first penalty and left the referee no choice but to send him off.
Tafazolli 8 - Defended very solidly. Unlucky not to score with a great header that was superbly saved.
Benning 5.5 - Had a good game but should not have dangled his leg out to allow Magnay to fall over it for the second penalty, and has to shoulder the responsibility and be cleverer than this.
Chapman 7 - Good game with some good corners, free kicks, and dangerous long-throws.
Blair 7 - Good game. Some great crosses in the first half.
Clements 7 - Went off injured in the first half.
J. Thomas 7 - Got involved in a lot with a busy performance. I’m looking forward to seeing continued improvement as he surely has an extended run in the team.
Dieseruvwe - One shot which he shanked wide. Sacrificed after the sending-off, to bring Alfei on.
Green 7 - So close with an effort that brought a great save, another that went inches wide, and his effort was blocked leading to Daniel’s goal.
Alfei (for Dieseruvwe, 29) 6 - Did okay. Started at right back, and switched to left midfield towards the end of the first half as the Stags went to three at the back.
Daniel (for Clements, 39) 7 - Did well, and took his goal well. Slight error in the build-up to the second penalty as he tried to shepherd the ball out of play.
Beardsley (for Alfei, 86) - So close to an equaliser as his close-range shot was blocked by the keeper.
Subs not used: Jensen, Rose, Lambe, Baxendale.