KARL Robinson may have landed himself in hot water once again as he appeared to strike Reda Johnson in the dying stages of Dons’ 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.
With the action on the pitch nothing to write home about, the Dons manager grew increasingly frustrated with some of the decisions made by referee James Linnington.
And when a challenge between Johnson and Stephen Gleeson spilled over into the Dons dugout, Robinson looked to separate the pair – although the Wednesday player ended up on the floor, with the manager looming angrily over him.
But his assistant John Gorman insisted after the game that the sending off wasn’t called for.
“It was a big fuss about nothing,” he said. “The guy fell over and Karl tried to help him up. The film will show what happened.”
Neither side registered a shot on target at stadium:mk and were the beneficiaries of two own goals. Luke Chadwick may well claim Dons’ 17th minute opener as it was his shot which came back off the crossbar before hitting unlucky keeper Stephen Bywater on the back of the legs and the ball rolled over the line.
Wednesday were handed their own slice of luck 10 minutes later though when Gary MacKenzie put into his own net for the second time in as many games.
“I thought we were the better team by far,” Gorman said. “We passed the ball well. It was a strike from Chadwick that was a bit fortunate, but we’re delighted to see him shooting from distance again and we thoroughly deserved to be in the lead.
“We’re very disappointed about the goal they scored. We felt David Martin was fouled, but it unfortunately came off Gary MacKenzie again. Tom Flanagan was outstanding though.
“We have lost players at the last minute, Chicksen had to play at right back, Darren Potter was missing again too, and we were down to the bare bones.”
With the departure of on-loan full-back Adam Smith on Monday night, Dons were caught short in defence, but had Adam Chicksen back from his spell at Leyton Orient to fill in on the night.
Wednesday started very much on the front foot, winning a series of corners, but it was the home side who created the first chance on goal. Exchanging a neat one-two with Charlie MacDonald, Dean Bowditch’s effort from the edge of the penalty area was straight at Owls keeper Bywater.
Dons have been lamenting their lack of luck lately, but they were handed a huge slice of it when Chadwick fired in after 17 minutes. His shot looked to be heading over the crossbar, but the ball struck the woodowrk before ricocheting in off the back of the unlucky Bywater’s legs.
Wednesday were level 10 minutes later though, and Dons were left cursing lady luck once more. Chris Sedgwick’s initial corner was cleared back to him, and his return cross appeared to beat everyone.
However, in the melee the ball came off MacKenzie’s foot as it dropped at the far post, beating Martin to score his second own goal in as many games. The keeper felt he had a good case of obstruction as he tried to catch the cross.
The first half wore on with neither side really taking the initiative and pushing on. As a result, it turned into a scrappy, bitty affair with a lot of nothing fouls given away in the centre of the park and both sets of centre halves winning over the forwards.
Chicksen, who was performing very well out of position, was unlucky to be withdrawn five minutes into the second half but suffered a nasty gash on his head. However, it allowed Robinson to show off his new marquee signing as Alan Smith entered the fray, with Chadwick slotting in at right back.
Charlie MacDonald was having a torrid time up front on his own and struggled to make any impact on the imposing figures of Danny Batth and former Don Miguel Llera in the Wednesday back line.
With 23 minutes remaining, Robinson threw on Jabo Ibehre to take his place to add some extra muscle up front, and he made some strong runs to test the Wednesday defence.
There were tense moments at both ends to come, with Llera nearly lobbing his own keeper as Ibehre chased down a long ball, and Gleeson being let off the book when Chris O’Grady over-hit his pass in a three-on-two Wednesday attack.
The game’s most controversial moment came with seven minutes to play. Gleeson and Johnson clashed and fell into the Dons dugout where Robinson appeared to try and split the pair apart. But in the melee Johnson fell to the deck with Robinson looming angrily over him.
Referee James Liddington consulted with his linesman before sending the Dons boss to the stands for the second time this year. But it made no difference as neither side created a late chance, settling for 1-1.
With the lack of chances created in Dons’ last three games, some fans have raised concerns about where goals are going to come from, but Gorman insists that Dons are far from shy when it comes to scoring.
“Fans always say that,” he said. “OK it hasn’t fallen for Charlie at the moment, but Bowditch has been scoring.
“We haven’t got one scorer, we spread them around. We have done all right when it’s come to scoring goals, I think we’re one of the top scorers in the country, let alone our league. We have a lot of shots on goals and make chances.”
The 1-1 draw sees Dons remain fifth in League 1 but they are now six points off Saturday’s opponents Huddersfield Town, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot behind Charlton.
However, Gorman believes Dons are still well in the hunt, and with a game in hand over the teams around them, he thinks his side will kick on and make a push in the latter part of the season.
He said: “It’s never too far away. It’s a good point against Wednesday, it keeps us in the hunt, we’ve still got a game in hand. We will get stronger now and will kick on. After losing away at Stevenage, it was nice not to lose and to play well.”