Stephen Gleeson’s red card a slight blemish on otherwise good end to Dons’ pre-season

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KARL Robinson will appeal Stephen Gleeson’s red card in a bid to have him available for Saturday’s League One opener against Oldham Athletic.

Gleeson was controversially sent off after 37 minutes of Dons’ League Cup first round victory against Cheltenham for what looked like a perfectly fair challenge on half-way.

But referee Steven Rushton deemed it worthy of a straight red card, which would see Gleeson suspended for the first three matches of the season.

Dons played with 10 men for the remainder of normal time, and edged ahead just before the break through Dean Bowditch. But the visitors were pegged back 13 minutes after the restart when Kaid Mohamed rifled home from to level things up.

With neither side able to add to their goal tally during normal – or indeed 30 minutes of extra time – the result was decided by a penalty shootout.

With Dons’ five takers hitting the net, David Martin was the hero as he saved Cheltenham’s second spot kick from Darryl Duffy to ensure a 5-3 victory.

Gleeson’s red card wasn’t the only blemish to come from the game though as Shaun Williams hobbled off after half an hour and is now doubtful for the game against Oldham at stadium:mk on Saturday.

“We started very slowly,” said Dons boss Robinson. “We found it hard to get to grips with the pitch – it was very sticky and we couldn’t pass as fluidly as we would have liked.

“Losing Shaun Williams was a big blow to us, and we lost Stephen Gleeson to a very good tackle. So with 30 minutes gone, we’ve lost arguably two of our best players.

“He (Gleeson) did not take his body off the floor, he didn’t have his studs showing, and nicked the ball off the player.

“The disappointing thing for me is that the same player who was rolling around on the floor crying was up again running around 30 seconds later, and was booked 10 minutes earlier for diving. That’s the way I’m looking at it anyway.

“The referee conducted himself well though, he was respectful when I spoke to him afterwards. I’ll try and appeal it because as I said to the fourth official, I didn’t even think it was a free-kick. And the next thing I saw was the red card, so you can imagine the look on my face…

“But that’s a great way to end pre-season for us. Cheltenham are arguably one of the best teams in the league below us and we’ve beaten them with 10 men. It’s a good day and we can now prepare for Oldham.”

New signing Antony Kay stepped up to fill in for the injured Williams, getting a bit longer on the pitch than he expected going into the game, while Ryan Lowe did nothing to harm his reputation with a series of close calls and near misses towards the end of the game.

Robinson said: “That’s what we’ve signed them for. All I heard from the back at the end was ‘one big header’ and Antony Kay rose up to head it clear.

“And Ryan Lowe has adhered himself to the fans already. His movement, his awareness, his touch is magnificent.”

Dons should hear in the next couple of days if their appeal over Gleeson’s red card has been successful or not.