Saunders slams ref as Donny go down

PA Sport
Dean Saunders
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Dean Saunders

Doncaster manager Dean Saunders questioned whether referee Mick Russell should be allowed to officiate again after he saw his side relegated following a dramatic 4-3 defeat against Portsmouth.

Crisis-hit Pompey were themselves seconds away from falling into League One until substitutes Dave Kitson and Marko Futacs scored to just about keep them afloat in the npower Championship.

It left Saunders fuming, though, as his side conceded four second-half goals he blamed on poor officiating. "I don't know if you've seen them all but that's Billy Smart's Circus out there today, all four goals," Saunders said.

After Rovers scored twice in the opening five minutes the match turned on the dismissal of Habib Beye, who also gave away a penalty despite appearing to foul Kitson outside the area.

The veteran Senegalese saw red as the last man, and moments after Greg Halford tucked home the penalty Russell awarded a second dubious spot-kick for handball against James O'Connor.

While James Coppinger fired Rovers back ahead soon after, a chaotic end to the match saw Kitson level in the 90th minute, despite appearing to shovel the ball across the line with his hands, before Futacs popped up to win the game in injury time.

Saunders went on: "I just hope the referee recovers from that. I just can't see him recovering from it. His career. The assessor was there. Let's let his boss who is above him and the assessor make that decision as to whether he referees ever again."

Speaking about Pompey's goals, Saunders said the first goal was "an absolute joke". He added: "Then it gets worse. The left winger gets in the box, he tries to hit a cross-shot, Jimmy O'Connor is two yards away from him. It's hits his arm, and I mean hits his arm, and he's given another penalty."

He went on: "And then the worst decision I've ever seen - I've seen some bad ones - but that is up there. Wait until all the viewers see it. Wait until you see it, it's incredible. He's like Michael Jordan. Both hands are above the crossbar he's fouled Gary Woods and pushed the ball in with two hands."

Despite his side's dramatic success, Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton said: "Our chances of staying up are not great. Even if we win the three games, all Bristol City have to do is look after their own ship. I think if it was a Grand National we'd be a 500-1 shot. What today does do though is it gives me confidence we can win three games."

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