Tranmere boss Micky Mellon had no sympathy for Corey Blackett-Taylor or Oliver Banks after their red cards left his side with nine men for the final half hour of a 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers.
The home side took a 38th-minute lead when Jonson Clarke-Harris headed home from a Josh Hare cross and Tyler Smith made sure of the points with an 88th-minute penalty after he was brought down by George Ray.
Blackett-Taylor was first to see red after 48 minutes for raising an arm into Ollie Clarke’s face and felling the home player, while Banks collected a second caution for a foul on Luke Leahy after 58 minutes, leaving the visitors with a near-impossible task.
Frustrated boss Mellon said: “They were both sendings-off. Blackett-Taylor is a young player still learning the game and this was a harsh lesson for him.
“Banks wasn’t sure he had been booked in the first half and there was some confusion over that yellow card. But he should have found out from the referee before making the challenge that brought the second caution.
“Our nine men battled really hard and we had a good chance to score before their second goal. But I’m disappointed with how we played in the first half against a side we knew we could make nervous in front of their own fans.
“We didn’t compete well enough. Bristol asked certain questions of us and we never answered them.
“But we were still in the game at 1-0. I changed one or two things at half-time, but in the end we have given ourselves a mountain to climb with two ridiculous red cards.”
Bristol Rovers assistant-manager Joe Dunne said: “We’re delighted to have won the game and built on the home form we showed against Cheltenham in the Carabao Cup.
“In some ways the manner of the win is irrelevant. When the opposition are down to nine men you are expected to go on and score five or six goals, but it doesn’t often happen.
“Our fans stuck with us and in the end we were rewarded with the second goal. It’s important we build a bond with the supporters.
“We were in total control of the game when it was 11 versus 11. Credit to Tranmere for playing a risk-free game after the red cards.
“Now we have Oxford here on Saturday. History says the Memorial Stadium is a tough place to visit and we intend to make it that way this season.
“If Jonson Clarke-Harris had still been on the field, he would have taken the penalty because he is our designated taker. But all credit to Tyler Smith. His body language was great when he picked up the ball and he stuck it away.”