Martin shocked at penalty decision
David Cuffley Striker Chris Martin admitted he was still in shock long after the final whistle over the controversial penalty that condemned Norwich City to their first League One defeat under manager Paul Lambert.
Striker Chris Martin admitted he was still in shock long after the final whistle over the controversial penalty that condemned Norwich City to their first League One defeat under manager Paul Lambert.
Milton Keynes Dons substitute Peter Leven scored from the spot 13 minutes from time to secure a 2-1 victory.
Martin, who had given the Canaries a perfect start to the televised match with one of the fastest goals in club history, was adjudged to have tripped Lewis Gobern in what proved to be the game's decisive moment.
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Referee Roger East initially indicated he felt Martin had played the ball, but quickly changed his mind on the advice of assistant Dave Naylor, to the City forward's disbelief.
“I definitely got a nick on the ball and I was shocked when I saw the linesman right in front of me put his flag across his chest,” said Martin.
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“I think you can tell as well by players' reactions. None of them claimed the penalty and I played on as though we were still playing and I'm still shocked now that it was given.
“I know that I won the ball but what can you do? The penalty was given and he scored it. There's a not a lot we can do now but I definitely know in my mind that I won the ball.”
Lambert could not disguise his feelings over the penalty award but after being fined and warned by the FA once this season over an incident when he was sent to the stands as Colchester manager, he was reluctant to elaborate.
He said: “To be swayed by his linesman . . . the referee actually made the sign with his hands that he played the ball. In my view the linesman is there to assist, not make major decisions and if it is a major decision the referee, in my view, should call it.
“I am not given clearance to talk about the guy. I thought it was woeful, absolutely woeful - and I am just not going to speak of it.”
Martin scored after 17 seconds but injuries to Stephen Hughes, Adam Drury and Michael Nelson disrupted City and Jason Puncheon equalized from a 57th-minute free-kick before the penalty decider.
“The injuries possibly made us a little bit flat. I think in the first 20 minutes we were very good, we were on top of the game and we grabbed an early goal, which helped matters,” said Martin. “They possibly did change the course of the game but I still think the lads that came on did very well, but I suppose it disrupts the balance a little bit in the team.
“We were beaten by a penalty which was dubious and a great free-kick, but it was a set piece. I don't think we really looked too much like conceding in open play and I think we were very unlucky.”
Martin's goal was quick but not quick enough to better City's record 10-second effort by Ralph “Ginger” Johnson against Leyton Orient in 1946, nor Keith O'Neill's goal after 12 seconds against Stoke in 1997.
“I was happy to get a goal. All I remember is the ball came across to me, I just took a touch and my first thought was get a shot off, as I like to do and luckily it crept in the bottom corner,” said Martin.
“I think I need to do more than just score. Forward players are judged on that but I need to work very hard, especially up and down on that left side.
“I think I put in a good shift and whoever was playing left back, Adam Drury or Simon Lappin, was helping a lot. It's hard work but you need to put it in for the team.”
With at least four City players younger than 20-year-old Martin on the pitch by the end of the game, he admitted it was a big test against one of League One's fancied sides.
“If you look at the age of quite a few of the lads, under 20 years of age, it does bode well for the future,” said Martin. “It shows how well we did fight against a very good MK Dons team who pass the ball very well. We dug in and showed some fight.”