Karl Robinson has hinted at a conspiracy against his side reaching the Championship, after Dons ‘went against the grain’ of what referees have wanted in recent weeks.
Refereeing horror shows from Craig Pawson in the game against Bristol City and from Paul Tierney against Bradford City on Monday night mean Dons have picked up just a point from six available.
Luke Ayling’s clear handball in the penalty area in the closing minutes at stadium:mk on Saturday in fact earned Samir Carruthers a booking for his protests.
While at Bradford on Monday, the first game since Robinson’s four-match touchline ban came to an end, Jon Stead used his hands in the build-up to James Hanson’s winner - another decision missed by the man in the middle.
Robinson’s conspiracy dates further back though, also highlighting a disallowed goal against Barnsley last month when Will Grigg was comfortably onside, only to have it chalked off by the assistant.
And it was that decision that made Robinson consider whether the referees have an agenda against Dons returning to the division they were in when they first first moved to Milton Keynes.
“It always seems that the closer we get to the top, things start to go against us,” Robinson said on Thursday. “I don’t know why.
“Will Grigg’s goal against Barnsley was four yards onside. Not, two, or one. Four. And that was at 0-0.
“We came out in the second half and won the game ourselves.
“But we went against the grain of what they wanted in the outcome.
“Even at Crewe, even though we won 5-0, we didn’t get a free kick until the 52nd minute.
“The handball decision against Bristol City (Luke Ayling) - impossible to miss.
“The handball on Monday (Jon Stead) - impossible to miss.
“They’re impossible, because the officials are in great positions. They’re looking from 15 yards, when it’s obvious from 50.
“If the referee did his job against Bristol City and Bradford, we’d be sat here three points better off.
“It’s ok when they’re in the top flight, and the decisions get scrutinised. But our careers at this level are just as important. Why are we any different?”
Blaming the referee can be seen as the easy way out though. But with Dons sat third in the table, a point outside the automatic promotion spots, Robinson says he is highlighting a problem in the game, rather than using it as an excuse.
“I want the outcomes to be fair. Errors will happen all over the pitch. But I’m not talking about petty things, these are key decisions. I don’t think we’ve had any go our way this season. I don’t want to blame anybody, but I’m just highlighting it.
“This is a good time, we’re a point behind second. It’s not an excuse why we’re in 10th, but we’re up there.
“We’re going to close ranks now, because we cannot rely on the decisions.”
But his protestations won’t stop with just words in a press conference - Robinson wants Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) - the governing body for referees - to sit down with him and iron out the issues he’s having and to dispel his conspiracy fears.
“I’m asking the PGMOL to come and see me and explain to me why,” he said. “I don’t think these key decisions are being scrutinised often enough at our level.
“If we’re rubbish and nick a game through a handball, I’ll come out and be honest.
“But in recent weeks, I don’t think we’ve done a lot wrong.”