MANSFIELD Town manager David Flitcroft was furious with the performance of referee Charles Breakspear as his side were pegged back by Newport County AFC in last night’s League Two play-off semi-final first leg at Rodney Parade.

Flitcroft felt County captain Mark O’Brien should have been sent off early on for hauling down Tyler Walker, before CJ Hamilton put his side ahead on 12 minutes.

And the Stags boss was also unhappy with the penalty awarded to the Exiles eight minutes from the end when visiting goalkeeper Conrad Logan was adjudged to have brought down substitute Ade Azeez.

Logan saved Padraig Amond’s spot-kick, but the striker followed up to level from the rebound and leave the tie evenly poised ahead of Sunday’s second leg at Field Mill.

“There are some big decisions he’s got wrong and it’s a travesty because we’re professionals,” said Flitcroft.

“You work really hard for these games and the fans travelled a long way and I feel we’ve been let down.

“You just want the best officials to referee these games, we’re not asking for a lot. There are plenty of great officials who will be on VAR duty this weekend they could have used.

“I’m just not sure how much they respect the League Two play-offs, we’ve been positioned on a Thursday which gave the FA an opportunity to give us a hell of a good referee.

“There are probably 60 to 70 higher-ranking referees in this country that should have refereed the game.”

Asked by Sky Sports if he felt the decisions went against his side, Flitcroft said: “One million per cent.

"Tyler Walker is clean through, he’s going to catch the ball up, and he’s been brought down with no covering defenders.

"It’s a red card, as simple as that. It’s early on in the match and it has a big outcome on the game.”

South Wales Argus:

He was equally adamant on the penalty.

“Conrad has come out, got his hand on the ball, and made a save,” said Flitcroft.

“Then he follows through and it’s a collision after he’s made the save.

“It’s one million per cent not a penalty.

“I don’t blame the referee, but a high-level referee could have come and done this game at a tough place to come. The fans are raucous and get behind everything.

“A top-level referee could have taken this game on and that’s where the fault lies. This game was probably too big.

“I’m frustrated because I don’t think the lads deserved to come off not as winners.

“Conrad has pulled off some good saves, but the lads fought. To come out with a draw means I’m a little bit frustrated.

“We fought for every ball and there was energy about the team. I thought we were excellent. It just disappoints me we’ve been let down by the officials.”

Looking ahead to the second leg, he added: “I don’t think we’re favourites. Newport have been phenomenal this season.

“We’re fighting to get out of this league and that’s what I saw. We’ll press on to Sunday.”

Read more: Newport County 1 Mansfield Town 1 - match report from Rodney Parade