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Archived News from March 2004

24th March 2004 22:34

Swansea Evening Post
In his frustration, Mansfield manager Keith Curle spent much of the night jumping around the dugout, just as he had done in the reverse fixture last August when two of his players were sent off and his team were trounced 4-1.
The hosts' major gripe was over an 18th-minute clash between their left-back, Tony Vaughan, and Swansea midfielder Jon Coates. There were conflicting explanations doing the rounds, one that Vaughan's lunge had been two-footed, another that he walked for pushing Coates in the face when he got up to remonstrate.
''I thought the tackle was worth at least a booking and the reaction was too,'' declared Roberto Martinez. ''The ref had no other option.''
Lawrence, not for the first time, made inroads on the Swansea left before cutting into the penalty area. With Michael Howard left appealing frantically for handball, Martinez slid in and Walton pointed to the spot.
''First, it was handball right in front of the linesman, then the player just kicked my leg and went down,'' moaned Martinez. ''The ref decided to give a penalty, and I've no doubt he was wrong.''
With 10 spot-kicks to his name already this season, Lawrence was never likely to miss from 12 yards. Despite a valiant effort from Freestone, he did not. The player once described as the David Beckham of the lower leagues - the blond-locked Lawrence, not Freestone, that is - was soon back in the spotlight, flooring Connor with a clumsy tackle and then collapsing when Swansea's new boy got up and shoved him in the chest. Referee's decision? Yellow card for Connor. Curle's verdict? He went berserk again, of course.
Walton's final key decision came two minutes from time when Martinez lofted a pass to Brad Maylett on the right flank. The speedy winger, definitely on his way back to better form, hooked the ball from the byline to the penalty spot, where Connor's run appeared to be hindered by a shirt-tug from centre-back Rhys Day. Off balance as a result, the former Rochdale frontman saw his toe poke go straight at Pilkington, and Curle started to like the referee just a little.
''That was the other major decision he got wrong,'' added Martinez. ''Paul Connor was in front of goal with a great opportunity and his shirt was pulled back. The ref said both players were pulling at each other, but Paul was in front of goal.''
Centre-back Alan Tate was typically blunt, adding: ''The sending off was probably on his mind and he thought he'd even things up. It should have been a penalty, but I think if he'd given that he would have been shot on his way out.''


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