Penalty row in top-of-ta­ble clash

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Chris Dunlavy

POOR ref­eree Craig Paw­son took a past­ing from both man­agers af­ter re­fus­ing to award two con­tro­ver­sial penal­ties.

In a top-of-the-ta­ble clash of high qual­ity but few chances, Bris­tol City should have earned a first crack at break­ing the dead­lock when Matt Smith was hauled to the ground by Antony Kay shortly be­fore half-time.

But hav­ing let that one slip, Paw­son then stunned ev­ery­one in sta­dium:mk by fail­ing to spot a spec­tac­u­lar save from City de­fender Luke Ayling, who dived full-length to block Samir Carruthers’ goal-bound shot.

“Frankie Field­ing would have been proud of that,” said Dons boss Karl Robin­son, who saw his side slip out of the top two. “When you watch that back and pause it at the point of im­pact, he’s at full stretch. He’s gone to ground and ex­tended his right arm. It’s fan­tas­tic tech­nique.

“They got it wrong.The ref­eree was very open and hon­est with me af­ter­wards. He said ‘We got that wrong’. I said ‘Thanks – but you shouldn’t be get­ting those wrong’. It was clear.”

In­formed of Robin­son’s sen­ti­ments, Bris­tol City manager Steve Cot­ter­ill wasted no time in rais­ing his own griev­ances with Paw­son.

“I’m not sure about that one,” said the for­mer Burn­ley boss, whose side re­main at the sum­mit of League One.“I might be biased, but it was smashed at Luke and I think it would have been harsh.

“I think their ap­peal­ing for a penalty is an at­tempt to de­flect from the fact that ours was a def­i­nite penalty. It was nailed on. I’ve looked at it again and Matt Smith was dragged down in the

box. Karl Robin­son even men­tioned that it was a bla­tant one in the tun­nel at half-time which tells you ev­ery­thing.”

It was a shame a match that in­trigued with­out ever ex­hil­a­rat­ing didn’t get the goal some of its bet­ter pas­sages de­served.

Nei­ther side played for a point; they sim­ply came up against de­fences too strong and too well-drilled. Con­sid­er­ing MK Dons have now kept 15 clean sheets and Bris­tol City 12, that is per­haps no sur­prise.

Kyle McFadzean was a colos­sus for the Dons, us­ing his size to over­power hulk­ing City striker Smith. And while

Luke Free­man – a rev­e­la­tion this sea­son – was danger­ous on the run, the at­ten­tions of Dar­ren Pot­ter en­sured he rarely got into danger­ous ar­eas.

At the other end, Ayling was mag­nif­i­cent for the vis­i­tors, throw­ing his body, ev­ery part of it, in the way of ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing a goal-bound shot from Jor­dan Spence. Along­side him, the im­pe­ri­ous Aden Flint was even bet­ter.

Though the Dons cre­ated chances, they were al­most all from range and it says ev­ery­thing that their best ef­fort came in the 91st minute, a 25-yard thun­der- bolt from Dele Alli that missed the up­right by a whisker.

Havng joined Spurs for £5mil­lion on dead­line day, this was the now on­loan 18-year-old’s first chance to show he’s worth the out­lay and, in flashes, his tal­ent was clear. Un­for­tu­nately, he came up against a side more than pre­pared for him and the mid­fielder spent much of the 90 min­utes be­ing ei­ther dou­ble-teamed or kicked. He will have to get used to th­ese sort of af­ter­noons.

“If we’re be­ing hon­est, nei­ther side de­served to win,” said Robin­son, who gave a sec­ond de­but to on-loan mid­fielder Keith An­drews, the 34-year-old who skip­pered the Dons to pro­mo­tion from League One be­fore join­ing Black­burn in 2008. “But it was two teams who gave ev­ery­thing. In the tun­nel be­fore the game, it was like two sets of gla­di­a­tors lining up to do battle.That’s how they played and the fans love to see that kind of pas­sion and de­sire.”

On that score, Cot­ter­ill was in full agree­ment de­spite see­ing a win­ning run come to an end:“If it had been 3-3, evey­body would be out here say­ing what a mag­nif­i­cent game it was.”

“But be­cause it’s 0-0, it won’t get any head­lines. But we both tried to win the game and I thought it was high qual­ity. There won’t be many teams who come to MK Dons this sea­son and keep a clean sheet so we have to be very sat­is­fied.”

FLY­ING HIGH: Dean Lew­ing­ton of MK Dons and Jay Em­manuel-Thomas of Bris­tol City tus­sle

PIC­TURES: Martin Dal­ton

SLIP AND SLIDE: Samir Carruthers tries to get a shot at goal for MK Dons but is blocked by Wade El­liott



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