Football can sometimes be a very cruel mistress, and Mansfield felt the full force of Football's cruelty as they got thumped 5-0 by league one Charlton.
The scoreline completely flattened the hosts as they ran out winners of the match which should never have been, the FA and referees apology for awarding Charlton a goal which was clearly offside in the original tie is nothing more than another bitter pill for Stags fans to swallow.
On a freezing Tuesday with the rain pouring down on a soulless and practically empty Valley, the Stags were extremely hard done by and I imagine that David Flitcroft will be majorly biting his tounge where the referee is concerned, as another poor and frankly strange decision ruined the game.
The Stags were 2-0 down and to be fair had conceded two soft goals, however they were largely dominating play and had been caught and punished by a team pushing for promotion back to the championship.
Time may well have been against them but I felt we had a goal in us to set up a tense finish, yet the referee had other ideas and after initially awarding the Stags a free-kick, seemingly changed his mind and seconds later - the hosts had a third, after which, with Stags pretty much baffled, bemused and deflated, the hosts scored twice more to inflict what on paper looks like a battering.
I dont think that I've ever felt like the Stags could get back into the game with practically ten minutes to go when losing 2-0 Away from home and the fact, prior to that ridiculous free kick, that I felt like we could is testament to the way David Flitcroft has got us playing.
The defeat is hard to take and given our solid record and good form is a massive sucker punch, yet in some ways it could be a blessing in disguise as it gives us a sharp slap across the face and asks us if we are up for the fight together as one.
We have to go and respond on Saturday in a hostile and charged environment at Lincoln who will want to maintain their good form and get their own back from earlier in the year in the checkatrade game, we can not let two ridiculous refereeing decisions affect us, nor can we dwell on them.
Yes it is disappointing to bow out of the competition at this early stage, and of course winning games is a good habit to have, but we've lost no points of slipped down any tables. It's one game, one blot on a much bigger canvas.
Come on you Stags as David Flitcroft aptly said “we are a squad, we are a team and I won’t allow any victims – that [game] has gone now.”
The Stags made four changes from Saturday’s win over Port Vale, reverting back to a 3-4-1-2 with the introduction of Calum Butcher in the attacking midfield role, Will Atkinson came in at right wing back, whilst there were also starts for Danny Rose and midfielder Timi Elsnik.
Click here to read the clubs report of the game
FULL TIME: Charlton 5-0 Stags
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Bobby Oljenik, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce ©, Ryan Sweeney, Will Atkinson, Jacob Mellis (Hayden White 22), Timi Elsnik, Mal Benning, Calum Butcher, Danny Rose (Jordan Graham 61), CJ Hamilton (Tyler Walker 61)
Unused Substitutes: Conrad Logan, Jason Law, Lewis Gibbens, Nyle Blake
Referee: Kevin Johnson
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