Referee crumbled under pressure, says Dons boss Neilson after Wigan defeat

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson

Robbie Neilson felt sending both Callum Elder and Scott Wootton off was a sign of a referee losing the game.

While Dons lost 1-0 to Wigan on the opening day of the season, red cards on both sides were the main talking points as referee Kevin Johnson dished out the cards thick and fast - as early as the third minute of the game.

While Wigan were upset at Elder's sending off - a late challenge on George Williams just before the break - Dons too were left furious as Scott Wootton was shown a straight red for his tackle of Michael Jacobs on half way when Wigan shaped to break.

And Johnson's performance in the middle left Dons boss Neilson with a sour taste in his mouth.

He said: "There's a rule in football that says you can't surround the referee, but they had seven players around him, steaming in from 40 yards away. If he's not going to clamp down on it, I'll tell my players to do it as well. He has to get control. I didn't think he had any control of the game.

"In English football, you'll get tackles. But if you book a full back for a nothing challenge after three minutes, you'll put yourself under pressure. Every other challenge, we were looking for a booking, every other challenge, they were looking for a man to get sent off. The referee has manage the game. This was two teams who would be at the top of the league and I don't think he controlled it well enough for this level."

While the refereeing decisions stole the show, the scoreline was probably about right. While Dons keeper Lee Nicholls kept the scoreline civil at times with an excellent display, Christian Walton at the other barely dirtied his kit as the home team failed to really fire.

"We've obviously disappointed," Neilson continued. "I felt there were aspects of the game where we did really well.

"I expect Wigan to be one of the top teams in the league, but I expect us to be there or thereabouts with teams like that. There are a few positives, but we're disappointed not to get three points at the start of the season.

"Their goal was a counter, which is disappointing, but it's something we can work on. That's a Championship team which retained a lot of their Championship players. They will be at the top end, but we showed at 10 vs 10 we were the dominant team. It bodes well for the future."

But with Dons seeming lack of firepower and cutting edge again evident, as it was so often last season, Neilson said a new signing was on the horizon which could put an end to it.

He added: "We're still working on it and hopefully this week we can get it over the line. It's one we've been working on for a long time. We're still looking to recruit, and there's plenty of time to do it."