Dons getting ‘stitched up’ by refereeing decisions

MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers leads the appeal for a penalty during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PSI-1119-0028
MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers leads the appeal for a penalty during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PSI-1119-0028
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Karl Robinson is building an ever-growing dossier of incidents going against his side after another penalty decision went against MK Dons on Saturday.

Ten minutes into the second half at the Amex Stadium, Brighton defender Lewis Dunk appeared to get none of the ball, but all of Samir Carruthers as he slid across the penalty area.

Referee Dean Whitestone during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PSI-1119-0041

Referee Dean Whitestone during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. Photo by Bennett Dean. PSI-1119-0041

But while most of the 23,600 in the stadium expected referee Dean Whitestone to point to the spot, he awarded a corner - but only after consulting with the linesman who saw it perfectly.

Rewind six weeks, and Robinson was left scratching his head again, this time when Leeds captain Sol Bamba’s handball shortly before half time went ignored by referee David Webb - in fact he awarded Leeds a free kick.

And that’s not to mention a foul on Dean Bowditch during the 2-1 defeat to Burnley, and a suspect back-pass decision at Middlesbrough which sparked the move for Stewart Downing’s opening goal.

The decisions, according to Robinson, are mounting up against his side, even on top of those he had gripes with last season, left only to ponder what might have been and given the excuse of ‘these things even themselves out’ to chew the fat with.

Wary he may come across as bitter, Robinson said: “In one week, we’ve been stitched up by two assistant referees. Is this an excuse or fact? Hull’s opener was offside, and we had the most blatant penalty turned down. It’s wrong, it’s completely wrong.

“During the game it affects the players, 100 per cent. It really does. And it gives the opposition a boost.

“When I first got the job, maybe we used the referees as an excuse. Lots of managers do. But someone has to stick up for my football club, and it’s going to be me.

“If I have to take the punishment for that, then so be it. I won’t accept it. Other people in the game shouldn’t have to accept it either. If they’re going to come after me, they should go after the one who affected our results too. But I’ll tell you know who will win.

“We were hurt on Saturday. We felt we put in enough in the last three games to get something.

“I just don’t understand it.”

Not only is it a decision Robinson can’t understand, but it’s also a decisions he can do nothing about. Any real talk of it will result in a fine or a ban, while letting it go may result in a similar decision going against someone else.

He said: “It goes nowhere. We take it on the chin and move on.

“If that decision went against us, I can’t come out and say it wasn’t a penalty.

“I haven’t been able to talk about how well Nicky Maynard played, or how hard Dean Lewington worked to keep Brighton quiet in the second half, or how hard Diego covered and made challenges - we’re talking about the wrong decision.

“My players get fined for diving, they get fined for breaking the laws of the game. They get in trouble if they try and interfere with the referee.

“I started very calmly with the fourth officials at the start of the season, but now I just tell him what I think. We don’t get anything if we keep quiet. My players have dealt some harsh cards. Our hours of preparation and match analysis, we come out with a ‘sorry Karl, we got it wrong.’ Pardon?!”

It begs the question ‘what can be done to alleviate the issue?’

Referees cannot be expected to face the media after a game and explain every decision, however dubious or clear-cut. But Robinson feels the men in the middle should be expected to explain themselves if and when they’ve made match-altering decisions which have affected the outcome one way or the other.

“We have to have a level playing field. If I go at someone personally, or their integrity, that’s wrong. But I should be able to come out and say ‘that’s a terrible decision, something has to change.’ If a player does something bad, he doesn’t play. We should be able to come out and speak the truth. And they should speak too. They want to be part of the industry too. If don’t speak to the media, I get fined. If I’m honest, I get fined for someone else’s misdemeanours.”