Cambridge United chairman Mark Bonner was angered by two refereeing decisions following defeat to MK Dons

Manager Mark Bonner bemoaned two quick-fire first-half decisions from referee Sam Lewis during Cambridge United’s 1-0 defeat by fellow strugglers MK Dons this afternoon.

The visiting U’s thought they had broken the deadlock in the 32nd minute when a right-footed Jack Lancaster curled a shot into the bottom corner, only for an offside Sam Smith deemed to be in goalkeeper Jimmy Cumming’s eyeline.

To add insult to injury, with their next attack the Dons scored what turned out to be the only goal of the match. Bonner felt a small foul was awarded in favor of Connor Grant and Mo Essa stepped up to bend the resulting free kick into the top corner.

Cambridge United coach Mark Bonner.  Photo: Simon Lancaster
Cambridge United coach Mark Bonner. Photo: Simon Lancaster

“The first goal is key. We score a goal on the inside because the player (Smith) is in an offside position, but there is no way he would interfere with the goalkeeper or his line or that movement at all,” said the United manager.

A minute later, he hit the softest free kick he had ever taken and the player slotted it into the top corner.

“In those two minutes the whole afternoon changes because the first goal counts. When teams are as devoid of confidence as they are, the first goal was always really important and we scored it.

“He told the assistant referee because he was in an offside position. I don’t have any concerns with him, but the referee is in the middle of the field and decides he is involved, which is absolutely nonsense.

“It’s a great goal, well done from deep in the field. And it’s a great free kick but we certainly don’t think it should have been awarded.”

However, Bonner admitted his side’s response to falling behind wasn’t good enough.

He added, “We started the second half with a little intention. The place was dead, no atmosphere, no leadership in the game. We were in their half but when we block the ball cheaply, the momentum changes and that’s what happened in the second half.”

“We were terrible with the ball, took it too often and didn’t create any moments of quality and lacked a bit of strength while it lasted.

“We are disappointed with our form as the game went on and our inability to create many good chances.

“We hid a little bit in the second half a lot and didn’t get enough pace or enough passing options. Look how many passes we gave or turned the ball over because we passed a problem to a team mate or bounced something or didn’t play enough zip or pace and then we got frustrated. Because of that.

“If we want to stay in the league and win games we have to be better than we were in the second half because that wouldn’t be good enough to do that.

“I don’t actually think we were under a huge amount of pressure or threat against them either. I thought they were two teams that were similar to the level they’re at (at the moment).”

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