Coughlan raps ref after Newport lose at home to Mansfield
County boss Graham Coughlan was proud of his players but blasted the performance of referee Thomas Kirk after the home defeat to Mansfield.
Hiram Boateng and substitute James Gale had put the play-off-chasing Stags in control with goals in each half but a late header from Exiles sub Aaron Wildig set up a nervy finish.
That goal was enough to see Nigel Clough’s men drop from seventh to eighth but they do have a game in hand over Salford, who leapfrogged them with a 2-0 win over Hartlepool.
Coughlan said:“We had a stonewall red card and a stonewall penalty, we just have to live with these decisions and that’s frustrating.
“You can’t miss the red card and you can’t miss the penalty. There are no excuses for missing those incidents because they can be defining moments.
“Mansfield acted, they realised what was going on and took the player [captain James Perch] off at half-time, which is always an indication.
“We were on the wrong end of the decisions; we will just have to dust ourselves down and move on.
“Overall, it was a really good game between two really good teams.
“We gave two sloppy goals away but other than that we were really good.”
Mansfield manager Clough hailed his injury-hit side’s “incredible effort” as they held on to seal a the win.
He said: “It was a very important three points.
“We were down to the bare bones and we were hanging on for the eight minutes of injury time but we scored two wonderful goals and it’s an incredible effort.
“It’s great for the away fans to see their team do that against the odds.
“The players are all shattered now but it’s a big three points.”
Boateng broke the deadlock from close range in the 24th minute as he beat Cameron Norman in the box and slotted past Joe Day from close range.
The midfielder then turned provider as he released Gale for a clinical counter-attack goal after 73 minutes.
Wildig’s far-post header five minutes from time ramped up the tension and Mansfield survived a stoppage-time penalty shout to hold on for a vital victory.
“This is as tough as the ones we’ve got left,” added Clough.
“We’ve got four games to go now, three out of the four at home, and we need to stay unbeaten until the end of the season.
“It’s going to be a close one, a very tight finish. But it’s brilliant that we’re in with a shout with four games to go and it’s in our own hands.”
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