Hatters left amazed Tafazolli wasn’t shown red

Craig Mackail-Smith is fouled by Ryan Tafazolli
Craig Mackail-Smith is fouled by Ryan Tafazolli

Hatters striker Craig Mackail-Smith couldn’t believe that Mansfield defender Ryan Tafazolli stayed on the pitch during Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Kenilworth Road.

Just before the hour mark, the Stags centre half pulled down Luton’s summer signing in the area as he raced on to Paddy McCourt’s perfect through ball.

“I won’t say what I would like to say as I’d get in trouble.”

Mark Tyler

Tafazolli was clearly the last man, but referee Kevin Johnson, who made some decidedly iffy decisions all afternoon, somehow deemed the offence worthy of just a yellow card.

Speaking afterwards, Mackail-Smith said: “I took a touch across him so I could get a shot away and I was surprised that there wasn’t a red card.

“He was the only one that was chasing me down, that’s the referee’s decision to give him a yellow, it was just nice the ball went in the back of the net as that would have been a sour taste.”

Keeper Mark Tyler was of the same opinion as he team-mate too, as he said: “I think the ref said to the fourth his touch took him away from goal, but, I won’t say what I would like to say as I’d get in trouble.

“It’s the referee’s decision, you can’t change his mind and Craig’s stepped up and smashed it home, so that’s more reward for us.”

That was also the feeling of assistant boss Terry Harris, especially as Hatters defender Scott Cuthbert had seen red at Notts County the previous week.

He said: “I don’t like to see anybody get sent off, but by all accounts the fourth official said he was going away from goal, well, was in the width of the posts.

“There were some strange decisions, you have to accept them and it’s a tough job to do, I understand that.

“I’m trying to be kind here, sometimes they have games where they’re a little bit below the mark.”

Once the penalty was given though, there was no way Mackail-Smith was going to hand the taking duties to someone else, adding: “I’ve got belief and confidence in myself that I’ll step up and score.

“Penalties for strikers are goals that add up at the end of the season, I believe in myself when the ball’s on the spot that I’m going to beat the keeper.”