THE referee made the wrong decision in awarding a late penalty to Dons, according to manager Karl Robinson, but they should have had one earlier in the game.
Shaun Williams slotted home the 90th minute spot-kick to earn Dons all three points against Sheffield United, ending their long unbeaten run and closing the gap between the boys from MK and the all-important automatic promotion spots to just three points.
Referee Darren Sheldrake awarded the dubious penalty after Darryl Westlake fouled Angelo Balanta as he was running away from goal late in the day, but missed the more obvious shout in the first half when Harry Maguire clipped Dean Bowditch when he was through on goal.
After the game, Robinson questioned Sheldrake’s performance, pointing at another challenge which could have gone either way.
He said: “I’ll be honest – I didn’t think the one in the second half was, and I’m baffled as to why he did give it. The one in the first half, Bowditch was in on goal, in control of the ball, it’s a penalty and a sending off after 25 minutes. He got the biggest one wrong.
“We’ve had a lot of people sent off this year, and the Maguire tackle was borderline. But in modern day football it’s borderline, in the football we want to see I thought it was a good tackle. If all referees keep in tackles like that, then we know where the consistency lies.”
Even though the goal came from the penalty spot, Dons deserved all three points from the game. Dominating from start to finish, Robinson agreed that his side were worthy winners.
“I felt we deserved it,” he said. “I’ve got tremendous belief in the players. I got some stick from some of them the way I was sat for the penalty – I’ve never been that nervous on the touchline before. We deserved exactly what we got out of the game.
“There were one or two flash points which will be the talking points, but over the 90 minutes our attitude, our endeavour and our football, defending, grit and determination, our unit, shape, our set-pieces, were all brilliant. It was almost a complete performance in my view.
“Our team have been criticised unfairly, so maybe it’ll shut you lot up for a little bit.”
Robinson gave a prickly response to questions about Dons’ return to form, now winning three League 1 games on the spin having gone five without a victory.
“I’m not going to answer silly questions like that,” he said. “Our form has been magnificent all season. We’ve just not had the luck in certain games.
“I’ve stood on that touchline and watched every single game, and those boys deserve a lot more credit than they’ve been getting recently. Results will always come when you play well.”