'First goal offside and Ollie Rathbone kept fouling,' says the MK Dons boss beaten by Rotherham United

'First goal offside and Ollie Rathbone kept fouling,' says the MK Dons boss beaten by Rotherham United

By Paul Davis | 24/10/2021

'First goal offside and Ollie Rathbone kept fouling,' says the MK Dons boss beaten by Rotherham United
Liam Manning

OPPOSITION boss Liam Manning pointed the finger at the standard of refereeing after side's weekend defeat at the hands of Rotherham United.

The fifth-placed Millers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at MK Dons on Saturday as they gave arguably their best performance of the season to consolidate their place in the League One play-off places.

But Dons manager Liam Manning, whose side had begun the contest only one spot below Paul Warne's side, chose not to give much real credit to the visitors.

Instead, he claimed the opening goal, a header by Michael Ihiekwe that originated from a free-kick, should have been ruled out for offside and that Millers man-of-the-match contender Ollie Rathbone was allowed to get away with persistent infringing.

"It was a really difficult one to take," he said. "The first goal was extremely frustrating because three of their players were offside, so our guys did the job properly.

"We knew Rotherham would be extremely difficult to deal with at set-pieces, so to be punished that way is an extreme frustration and it had a big impact on the game.

"I thought the level of officials today was poor. You look at Rathbone racking up numerous fouls and there was no consequence to it."

Replays showed that no Rotherham player was in an offside position when Dan Barlaser delivered the ball for Ihiekwe to head home in the first half.

Further goals after the break from Barlaser and Freddie Ladapo stretched the Millers' unbeaten run to nine matches and inflicted only a second league home loss on the Dons.

Staffordshire referee Christopher Sarginson awarded 20 free-kicks to MK and only six to Paul Warne's men, but that didn't ease Manning's anger.

"You're relying on the officials to do the job properly," he said. "We play a certain style and if people want to, rightly so, stop it, the officials have to make sure they do their jobs properly.

"There were some key moments which didn't go our way which were down to a lack of quality of key decisions."

Manning, who took the Stadium MK hot-seat in August, added: "We're at the start of our journey, I'm not using experience as an excuse, but it's a learning experience for us so that when we come up against opposition like this in the future we can stand up and come out on top.

"Rotherham are well-organised, physical and intense opposition. I thought for large elements we were in it. We gave them a good level of competition but we weren't good enough in our attacking and didn't defend well enough."

"You can see they had had a tough game against Wycombe Wanderers (a 0-0 draw four days earlier) and today they looked hardened to it. We are still learning, but it's about taking these experiences and making sure we get better quickly."

Scott Twine and Zak Jules had opportunities to equalise with headers close to the interval, then the Millers pulled away after the break and fully deserved the margin of their triumph.

"If we'd scored before half-time with the three chances we had at that corner, it would have been a different game," Manning said.

Rotherham boss Paul Warne was also frustrated by Sarginson's display and picked up the first booking of his near-five-year managerial career after throwing down his bottle of water in protest at a decision in the first half.


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