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Interviews

Mark: A real sense of injustice

Manager has his say after late heartbreak at Fleetwood

23 April 2022

Mark Bowen was left poleaxed by a controversial free-kick decision which all but consigned AFC Wimbledon to League Two football next season.

Mathematically we can still survive the drop but realistically those hopes just about vanished when referee Anthony Blackhouse awarded Fleetwood a free-kick nobody had seen coming - just two minutes from the end of normal time.

Looking comfortable with a 1-0 lead, our keeper Nik Tzanev moved the ball forward to kick it up field when suddenly the ref blew his whistle claiming our number one had taken a touch too many.

Naturally perplexed by the whole situation, Mark had this to say: “I’ve been in this game for 40 years now and I realise that you’ve got to choose your words very carefully. I’m angry and I’m disappointed. I’ve just been to see the referee and he has told me that he can’t even remember if he blew the whistle to restart the game after the free-kick was awarded, which I find quite staggering.

“Our goalkeeper knew it was a free kick and like every goalkeeper he put the ball down and tried to nick a few yards whilst the referee was running away. The referee then blew and said that he had kicked it twice after the free-kick had been given. I then asked the referee “Why would a keeper kick the ball twice? There’s only one possible scenario - he didn’t hear the whistle being blown.

“The common-sense approach would have been to ask the keeper if he had heard the whistle, reset it and then play. But instead, he’s given them a free-kick and they’ve scored from it.”

The result sadly leaves us staring down the barrel of relegation following a six-year stay in League One. Nevertheless, our manager was keen to emphasise that he has seen enough during his short time with us to suggest that we can bounce back from this potential setback.

“We’ve had two games in a row where things have conspired against us. There’s a real sense of injustice in the dressing room amongst my staff and my players at the moment because it affects people’s lives.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know this is a special club. It’s got plans for the future – if it needs to take a step back to take a step forward again it will.

“I didn’t say much to the players in the dressing room. At times like this they just need to be left with their own thoughts. I feel for them. We’ll stay professional and look to put a performance on for our fans against Accrington.”

Pic credit: Ian Stephen, Pro Sports Images.


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