Too many mistakes, not a potential red card, to blame for Dons capitulation at Lincoln
Lincoln City 4-0 MK Dons
Referee Bobby Madley's decision not to send off Lincoln striker Brennan Johnson in the first half after a foul seconds after being booked would come back to haunt MK Dons, but it was not the reason they were soundly beaten 4-0 at Sincil Bank, said Russell Martin.
Johnson would score a second-half hat-trick in 13 minutes as Lincoln ran riot over a sorry Dons side to claim victory, with the excellent Cohen Bramall scoring a fine free-kick 15 minutes from time putting the icing on the cake for the hosts.
Though Johnson was lucky to remain on the pitch, Martin felt the decision to allow the striker to remain on the pitch was not the reason for Dons' defeat. Instead, he pointed the finger at an error-strewn opening 15 minutes to the second half which allowed Johnson to put the game to bed without much contest.
He said: "Of course it would have impacted the game but we had a long time after that to still try and win the game 11 vs 11. If he hadn't just been booked before that, he would have been booked again.
"It has impacted the game but we were undone by a 15-minute spell. I'm not going to blame the referee, who it is good to see back after a tough period in his life. Referees make mistakes, players make mistakes, we make mistakes. It is what it is.
"It's a strange game to sum up for us. We made too many mistakes. When we play this way, there will always be mistakes. There was some brilliant stuff in the first half and we were the better side but we didn't look like scoring. We didn't go that extra yard to put them under pressure.
"We made too many mistakes in the second half and they pounced on them. Lincoln are really good at counter-attacking, when they win the ball they spring back with so much energy. We managed to avoid it in the first half for the most part but in the second half, there were too many. They had so much energy and we couldn't deal with it.
"I can't be too angry at the players but I am angry at the reaction to making mistakes. For 10 minutes, that wasn't us and that's hurtful. There was so much anxiety after that first goal, and we were still in the game at that point. It has never happened before and we have to make sure it never happens again.
"We couldn't cope with making mistakes and we lost our way. The mentality wasn't right for that period which was disappointing because I think we'd got over that – I haven't seen that for a very long time.
"I'm not convinced it was a 4-0 game when the full game is taken into account."