Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans felt his side did not deserve their 1-0 Carabao Cup exit at home to League One Rochdale tonight.
The Stags hit a post among several good chances and also saw Danny Rose miss a late penalty that would have forced extra-time as Stags tried to get past the first hurdle of this competition for the first time in 11 years.
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But Callum Camps’ 25-yard wonder goal on 17 minutes proved the difference in the end on a night of non-stop rain that saw both sides produced an entertaining game in appalling conditions.
“We deserve to be in the second round. It’s hard to take,” admitted the Stags boss.
“We had a couple of golden chances and total dominance in the second half against what you’d class as a good side.
“The players must take enormous credit for the performance, but we are out the cup and that is the sad part.”
Danny Rose won the late spot kick only to see a poor finish down the middle kept out by the keeper’s trailing legs as he dived.
“He won’t take the next one. It was a bad miss and I think he kicked the ground,” said Evans.
Evans made six changes and had plenty of praise for those who came in on the night.
“I thought (Jimmy) Spencer was fantastic and he only came off because he was really tired. He had put so much into the game – his link-up play, his hold-up play – those Rochdale lads at the back won’t come up against much tougher opponents than Spencer.
“I thought (Paul) Digby had fantastic energy going box to box and you know what you’re going to get with (Will) Atkinson and (Paul) Anderson.
“I thought all the subs made a real impact too.
“We picked a team to win a cup tie and we should have won the cup tie.”
He continued: “We have dominated them. First half there wasn’t a lot in it, but they scored a special goal. “You recognise the lad is a talented boy and he puts it in the top bag. Other than that and a couple of half-chances there was nothing in the game.
“We made chance after chance in the second half and had total dominance territorially.
“We carved them open time after time with our passages of play.
“They had Calvin Andrew on to play five at the back in the end.
“We go away disappointed, not with the performance but to be out the cup for the reason that the best team on the night went out. But that’s cup tie football.
“Rochdale are a good team, efficient and well-organised. But we grew into the game and in the second half there was only us in it.”