REF CRAIG IS PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1
Penalty row in top-of-table clash
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
SLIP AND SLIDE: Samir Carruthers tries to get a shot at goal for MK Dons but is blocked by Wade Elliott
STAR MAN ADEN FLINT Bristol