'˜Don't ever touch my players' warns Robbo after Owls bench fracas
Karl Robinson demanded more protection for his players after a fan was seen to shove Jonny Williams after he was substituted late on in the fiery 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
The Welsh international was floored by Ross Wallace with eight minutes to go in an off-the-ball incident which saw the Wednesday man sent off, prompting pantomime villain boos from the home fans.
But his substitution saw a fan get up close and personal with Williams as he came off, prompting manager Robinson to go into the crowd to confront the man.
“When one of my players gets pushed in his neck when he’s sat there, I’ll never take that,” he said. “And I stepped into the crowd.
“Don’t you ever touch my players. It’s my job to protect my players. I won’t criticise anyone at Sheffield Wednesday, but when you’re in the dugout, you’re asking for your players to be protected.
“What happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch. I’ll never stand for that. Whether it’s a fan, a player or whoever, I’ll protect them. From then on, it was abuse for us.”
The incident was sparked when Owls striker Fernando Forestieri was booked for diving, though it looked a legitimate tackle from Kyle McFadzean. While chaos ensued, Robinson admitted there was so much going on, he didn’t see the clash between Williams and Wallace.
He said: “To be honest, there was so much going on, but I’m being told by others who have seen it back that it’s a definite red card.
“I turned to (Wednesday manager) Carlos Carvalhal, because it was pretty heated down there, and I told him that it was a great tackle. Forestieri is one of the best players in the league by a long way, he’s a little genius. That was a poor decision for me.
“But there was a tackle on Josh Murphy that should have been a red card too. That was career threatening, and he knew what he was doing. I get pull backs and little clips, but I cannot condone that.”
After a stale opening 45 minutes, Dons survived a second half onslaught as Wednesday threw everything they had at the visiting side which featured 19-year-old Charlie Burns making his debut in goal.
Pulling off some solid saves, Burns could only watch on as the home side rattled the frame four times without scoring.
Robinson added: “He was excellent. He was so worried leading into the game. His last experience of football was Truro City away. Every time I shouted to him, he looked over and smiled.
“This is a fortress, an incredible stadium, and to make your debut here and to keep a clean sheet is something he’ll remember for the rest of his life. He’ll tell his kids that some day, and he’s probably 10 years from having kids!
“The back four conducted themselves brilliantly and helped him through. Their application and dedication to the cause was excellent.
“In the first half, we were the better footballing side. In the second half, it was backs against the wall for 45 minutes. We just couldn’t get out.”
And though Dons need three wins from the final three games and are relying on others to lose and a goal difference swing in order to prevent an immediate return to League 1, Robinson said his players can hold their heads high after picking up two good points on the road.
“That was as entertaining a 0-0 as I’ve ever managed,” he added. “If this year is not to be, and that’s how hard we can work, that fills me with so much pride.
“It’s not over. We’ve taken it to the last two weeks, and if we can take it to the last week, who knows what might happen. We’re used to chasing other teams, but we’ve managed to restore some pride into our shirt.”