Kitson reckons under-fire ref got decisions spot-on

Mike Russell sends off Habib Beye. Picture: Steve Reid (121306-1489)
Mike Russell sends off Habib Beye. Picture: Steve Reid (121306-1489)
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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The catalyst for Pompey’s remarkable Keepmoat Stadium victory believes controversial referee Mick Russell got it right.

Substitute Dave Kitson led the rescue mission as the Blues fought back from 2-0 at the break to triumph 4-3.

The often-maligned striker scored his first goal since November to turn the match on its head from the 90th minute.

His leveller to make it 3-3 was then added to by Marko Futacs three minutes into stoppage time to give Michael Appleton’s men an improbable result.

Before Kitson’s goal, Pompey were heading for relegation. Not that his moment wasn’t without its controversy, with Doncaster claiming handball by the former Reading man during that move.

Ref Russell also received criticism for giving a penalty after Kitson had been fouled, sending off culprit Habib Beye in the process.

And Kitson’s left-wing cross led to the second penalty after David Norris’ shot was handled by James O’Connor.

Incensed Doncaster chairman John Ryan afterwards called for the Hertfordshire-based referee to be retired from football.

But Kitson believes the referee was correct in his calls.

He said: ‘The first was a penalty and sending-off – absolutely.

‘Nobody was arguing with the red card. Even Giles Barnes said to me “I am not disputing the sending-off, I’m disputing whether it was in or out the box”.

‘The first contact was definitely out the box and then there was one I really felt, like someone had just kicked the back of my leg as hard as they could and it just went from under me.

‘I was clean through on goal and another step would probably have scored. You will have to ask him (Beye) what was going through his head but it was definitely a penalty, I was inside the box and it was definitely a red card.

‘For the second goal, I crossed it, Chuck (Norris) took a touch and volleyed and O’Connor put his hands up, only both hands, and there wasn’t very much dispute on that one.

‘When you look immediately around the Doncaster team afterwards and they’ve got their hands up to their heads it is probably a stonewall penalty. As for my goal, I think you would have to be unbelievably generous to give that as a free-kick, I really do.

‘I have seen it back and I’m going backwards – I don’t know what is behind me and I’ve just got the faintest of touches on it.

‘There were some fouls on me (during the match) but I didn’t moan, I just got on with it. I don’t think that was a foul, to be honest.’

Suddenly Kitson has found himself part of the Pompey squad again after the disappointment of recent weeks.

At one stage he had missed five successive matches as Appleton decided there was no room for him among his substitutes.

Yet the 32-year-old made a match-winning contribution on Saturday and savoured every minute of it.

He said: ‘To go into the last couple of minutes and score two goals, well as a team you don’t get many buzzes like that. Unless you are out there and do it you really don’t know what it is like. It’s just an unbelievable surge of emotion.

‘I have competed in a couple of high-scoring games but I don’t think I have ever been in a team which needed two goals like that so late in the game.

‘We didn’t play particularly well yet took our chances – but very nearly shot ourselves in the foot at the same time.’