Doncaster relegated after Pompey defeat

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 yesterday.

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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 Mr 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.

“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.

“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 the Pompey’s goals, Saunders said: “The first goal is an absolute joke. Habib Beye trips Kitson up four yards outside the box. It’s not even close.

“To make matters worse Habib Beye is not the last man.

“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.

“At 2-2 I’m thinking can we hang on or nick a goal on the breaks which Copps did.

“After that I felt quite comfortable actually. 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.

“It’s just impossible to give a goal unless you haven’t seen it and thought ‘I’m just giving it’.”

“The fourth goal is an even bigger foul on Sam Hird.

“I don’t know if I’m going to get in trouble for saying it but the game was decided by the referee.”

Despite feeling aggrieved, Saunders admitted the result was not the reason his side were heading back to League One after four years in the second tier.

“It’s not the reason why we’ve got relegated, but it sums up our season,” he said.

“I’ve got a big summer ahead of me now. We have to roll up our sleeves and come back stronger.”