MK Dons boss Karl Robinson has questioned referees’ treatment of Fernando Forestieri, claiming the Owls striker is getting a “rough ride” from match officials.
Top-scorer Forestieri was harshly booked for diving in the closing stages of Wednesday’s goalless home draw with the Dons in midweek.
The 26-year-old went to ground after a crunching tackle by defender Kyle McFadzean.
It is the third occasion Forestieri has been cautioned for simulation in the space of two months and Robinson is urging officials to stop picking on the 15-goal forward.
“Before the game, Fernando came running off the pitch and shook my hand and gave me and Keith Andrews, who he has played with, a hug,” Robinson told The Star. “He showed amazing respect for me before and at the end of the game.
“He’s an amazing young man and I have nothing but plaudits to give him.
“I know how talented he is and if you are asking me to pick a team of the year, Fernando would certainly be in it. I applauded something he did in the first half by mistake.
“I think sometimes he gets dealt a very rough ride.”
Robinson, whose father Kevin attended the Hillsborough disaster game of 1989, branded Forestieri’s latest yellow card “disgusting”.
“I think we get carried away as there are so many continental players who go to ground far too easily trying to buy silly fouls but that was an unbelievable challenge from Kyle McFadzean,” he said. “There was obviously going to be a collision with the speed at which Fernando was running at.
“Getting booked for that was the second worst decision in the game.”
The Liverpudlian feels Daniel Pudil should have joined Ross Wallace in receiving a red card following a challenge on Josh Murphy.
Robinson said: “That tackle was career threatening and he [Pudil] knew what he was doing. He was clearly out of control. I get pull backs and little clips, but I cannot condone that.”
The Dons boss was left furious after an Owls fan allegedly shoved Jonathan Williams following Ross Wallace’s red card. Wallace was dismissed after an off-the-ball incident with Williams.
Robinson, who missed the red card flashpoint, said: “The fans here are so passionate, and I’d never take that out of the game.
“I was told I was a Scouse this, fat that, everything. I’’m on the wrong side of the Pennines to be liked, and when there were stories linking me to Sheffield United, I’m not going to be liked here! You just have to take it.
“But when one of my players gets pushed in his neck when he’s sat there, I’ll never take that. And I stepped into the crowd.
“I don’t care who you are. You don’t touch my players.
“If you want to have a go at me, then do that, but don’t touch my players. I will fight for anyone who works for me. It’s my job to protect my players.
“I won’t criticise anyone at Sheffield Wednesday, but when you’re in the dugout, you’re asking for your players to be protected. What happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch. I’ll never stand for that.
“Whether it’s a fan, a player or whoever, I’ll protect them. From then on, it was abuse for us.”
Despite their spirited showing, the Dons are teetering on the brink of an immediate return to League One. They are nine points adrift of safety with three matches left to play.
Robinson took heart from their performance at S6 saying: “It was brilliant, I absolutely loved it.
“I love football; there’s too many games where the passion’s been drawn out.
“When you come to Sheffield, you know you are going to be in for a fight whether it is Hillsborough or Bramall Lane.
“We were the best team by a long way in the first half. We moved the ball efficiently.
“I thought we looked like a team who knew how to play football in the right way. We stopped arguably one of the best strikeforces in the league. They have got wonderful players.
“We’re in a completely different hemisphere to Sheffield Wednesday. One of their players is worth more than my team’s wages.
“I was immensely proud of my team. We outplayed them in the opening 45 minutes.
“In the second half, we got battered. It was backs to the wall. We literally had to hang on. I thought my players attitude was sensational.”