Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley accused Mansfield Town of an over-physical approach in the Stags’ 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy victory at Sincil Bank last night.
Mansfield players were shown six yellow cards in a typically bruising encounter with their local rivals while Imps had Michael O’Connor sent off.
Cowley claimed he was unable to bring on influential players for fear of their safety and also called on the EFL to change the rules that players sent off in the competition only served their ban in Checkatrade games as he felt it made it open season on taking out opponents.
“I seriously think the EFL need to look at the rules as they have now made the bookings and sendings-off competition-specific,” he said.
“But if you do that you’ve got to be really, really careful as Mansfield have come here with no game on Saturday and been really physical.
“I think there were 12 fouls in the first half and over 20 in the whole game by one team which is unheard of.
“They got six yellow cards and were lucky not to get a lot more.
“Our stats show that, during our possession, there was a foul every 28 seconds.”
Cowley wanted to bring on his big guns, but felt the physicality of the visitors made it too much of a risk.
“I was worried,” he said. “I had John Akinde and Lee Frecklington, boys I would have brought on, but I didn’t feel I could because we were aware of their safety.”
“This needs settling down or it’s a precedent. It they are not taking the Checkatrade Trophy seriously, teams could come and play against rivals in the league, be over-physical, and have a free hit on one of their opponents.
“I am not saying Mansfield have done that but we’ve all seen the game tonight and it was certainly physical.”
On the red card for O’Connor, he said: “It was a tangle of legs – a coming together. “Michael is an experienced player who should know better – and does know better. “But, unfortunately, the moment got the better of him. We need to show more emotional control than that.
“But the game was played in a certain manner which I thought our young players dealt with really well.
“We were a young squad tonight and Mansfield came here very strong, which was a really good test for us, and I think our players learned a lot tonight.
“I’ve got mixed emotions as the way the game finished was a shame and it’s obviously disappointing to lose. But our young players got a lot from it.”
The evening ended with angry exchanges between Mansfield boss David Flitcroft and Cowley brothers Danny and Nick on the touchline.
The sides clash again at Sincil Bank on Saturday, 24th November in League Two action.