Martin’s ‘terrible’ red card ruined an exciting FA Cup tie, says Manning

Stevenage 2-1 MK Dons

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 11:05 pm

Referee Alan Young stunned everyone by sending off Josh Martin on the stroke of half-time as MK Dons were eventually beaten by Stevenage 2-1 at the Lamex Stadium

The sending off of Josh Martin on the stroke of half-time ruined what was shaping up to be an enthralling FA cup-tie according to Dons head coach Liam Manning.

Leading through Harry Darling’s 36th minute goal, Martin collided innocuously with Bruno Andrade in the centre of the park - a collision which drew no protests from Stevenage players but the red card from referee Alan Young.

Young was refereeing only his second match since he had to bring the players out of the dressing rooms at half-time during Leyton Orient’s 5-0 win over Hartlepool to play the stoppage time he had added on, before sending them back inside again ahead of the second half.

A string of questionable decisions ensued at the Lamex Stadium - both sides were denied what appeared to be clear penalties, Dons saw six players go into the book, while would eventually finish with nine men when Darling was sent off in the final minute of extra time for his second booking, allowing Luke Norris to convert from the penalty spot to send Stevenage through, after Jamie Reid’s header on 61 minutes sent the tie to extra time.

Manning, speaking afterwards, admitted his side did not look the part in the first half, and were not afforded the opportunity to put things right in the second with the sending off of Martin.

“Aside from the emotional side and the disappointment, our feeling is frustration more than anything,” he said. “The game was ruined by a terrible decision ultimately. I’ve seen the video back – his arm is up slightly, but there’s no slap or no intention on it. I don’t know what the referee has seen, I’m baffled to be honest.

“We’ve just had too many decisions like that have decided games. I have no issue losing games when it happens on the pitch, not by poor decisions. It has just happened too many times.

“After that, we have to split the game in two – pre and post sending off. Pre-sending off, I was not happy to be honest. We lacked quality and discipline. We made too many mistakes. We started to get into the game a bit but then the decision was ridiculous.

“Post sending off, we showed some character, some real togetherness and a desire to work. I think a the start of the second half of extra time we got on top a bit, we had a few opportunities. After the sending off, we worked hard but it’s a shame an FA Cup game was ruined by a decision.”