Doncaster Rovers v Latics
Paul Dickov was incensed by David Cotterill’s goal which condemned Latics to a 1-0 defeat in their rearranged npower League One match at high-flying Doncaster Rovers.
Latics’ manager believed referee Gary Sutton ought not to have allowed Cotterill’s quickly taken free kick from which he scored from the left wing.
Dickov, whose side play Doncaster again on Saturday in the second round of the FA Cup with Budweiser, explained: "The referee made a ridiculous decision for the free kick which was the difference between the teams.
"Usually the referee stands there and blows his whistle. How he allowed it to be taken when our goalkeeper (Dean Bouzanis) was still lining up his wall, which wasn’t set, baffles me."
And there was a heavy price to pay for the defeat as Bouzanis and Cliff Byrne are ruled out through suspension as will be Doncaster striker Iain Hulme.
Bouzanis and Hulme were both dismissed in stoppage time while Byrne had earlier picked up a fifth booking of the campaign..
Dickov was unhappy with Bouzanis for needlessly getting involved in the incident which was sparked by Hume’s foul on Connor Brown. As Hume physically hauled Brown off the ground, Bouzanis intervened shoving Hume who collected his second yellow card.
"It was stupidity. Dean should not have got involved, but what I would like to know if why Dean was shown a straight red card and Hume two yellows because they were both manhandling each other,"he continued.
Dickov took positives from the match on the night Doncaster went joint top of the table on points with Tranmere Rovers.
He said: "We knew it would be a tough game as Doncaster are the division’s form team having scored seven goals in their last two games.
"The effort and application was there. We have been beaten 1-0 by a side which has been battering teams recently and I don’t think there was much between either of us.
"We more than matched them and it lets us know that we can beat them on Saturday which will be our cup final."
Dickov added that it was a compliment to the way his side played that Doncaster resorted to the long ball.
"The way we pressed from the front forced them to play that way. They are usually a team which likes to get the ball down and play," he continued.
Latics made once change from Saturday as Jose Baxter, Latics’ eight goal leading marksman, returned after a one-match ban in place of Matt Smith. Cristian Montano, who was also suspended against Shrewsbury, had to be content with a place on the bench as Jonathan Grounds remained on the left flank with Connor Brown staying at left back.
Doncaster were without striker Billy Paynter who was ruled out through injury, but still had considerable firepower with Hume and Chris Brown up front while Cotterill again provided goals from midfield – this was his eighth of the season.
Latics more than matched Doncaster in the opening period which failed to provide any sparkle as both sides cancelled each other out.
Bouzanis and opposite number Gary Woods were spectators for most of the half with Woods only stretched once while easily dealing with a long-range shot from Baxter.
It was a similar story after the restart and it was not until midway through the second period that the game unexpectedly exploded to life. Sadly it was Doncaster who seized the initiative.
Byrne came to Latics’ rescue with a headed goalline clearance after Brown’s header from a Tommy Spurr long throw beat Bouzanis.
From Cotterill’s resulting corner, Rob Jones’ bullet header brought a brilliant save from Bouzanis diving full length to his left.
The breakthrough came in the 68th minute when Latics conceded a free kick wide left. With Bouzanis still organising his wall, Cotterill whipped in a low shot which arrowed across the face of goal into the far corner.
Latics, suddenly chasing the game, brought on Smith and Montano for James Wesolowski and Grounds.
Doncaster ought to have built on their advantage in the latter stages when they wasted two gilt-edged chances.
Hume was denied by an excellent block by Bouzanis while Brown, clean through on goal, fired wide when he looked certain to score.
And the night ended on a sour note for Latics as Bouzanis saw red which handed young Aussie keeper Liam Jacob his debut for Latics and first appearance in League football.
Doncaster (4-4-2): G Woods; Quinn, Spurr, Jones, Husband; Cotterill, Harper (Syers 63), Keegan, Martin Woods (Clingan 33); Hume, Chris Brown. Subs (not used): Maxted, Blake, Michael Woods, Martis, McCombe.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Wabara, M’voto, Byrne, Connor Brown; Croft (Jacob (90+2), Wesolowski, (Smith 73), Furman, Grounds (Montano 73); Baxter, Derbyshire. Subs (not used): Millar, M’Changama, Winchester, Sutherland.
The goal: Cotterill (68) for Doncaster.
Sendings off: Hulme (90+1) for Doncaster. Bouzanis (90+1) for Latics.
Bookings: Hulme (76) for Doncaster. M’voto (17), Wesolowski (23), Byrne (68) for Latics.
Referee: Mr G Sutton.
Attendance: 6,066 (227 visitors)