Chris Wilder was left frustrated by “all three big decisions” that went against his side after Cobblers’ 3-0 defeat to MK Dons.
With 50 minutes played and after matching their Championship hosts, Northampton thought they had taken the lead when Dons goalkeeper David Martin took the ball over the line from a corner, however referee Tony Harrington awarded a free-kick to Dons for an apparent foul on Martin.
Town’s injustice at that decision was then compounded just a minute later when Dons were given a penalty despite Zander Diamond appearing to trip Dean Bowditch outside the box.
Ben Reeves converted the spot-kick and that changed the game as Dons added a quick second through Josh Murphy before Adam Smith gave away another controversial penalty for Simon Church to net a late third.
Afterwards, a typically forthright Wilder was particularly upset with the decision not to award his side a goal before Dons took the lead.
“If we score the first goal we’re a really dangerous team, however it comes,” he said afterwards.
“Whether it’s a volley from 25 yards or a corner which goes in when the goalkeeper takes a step back over the line.
“It was Sam Hoskins who’s five foot six. What’s he meant to do? Just disappear? Just let the goalkeeper have a free catch at it?
“He’s caught it and stepped back over the line and it’s a goal no matter how you dress it up
“The linesman has given it and the referee must have had a bit of a panic and it’s the easy way out, the easy option to give a foul against the goalkeeper.
“Football has changed but it’s still a contact sport and it’s a goal and that would change the whole complexion of the game, regardless if we’re playing well or not playing well.
“We should be 1-0 up and after we feel a bit of injustice, they then go up the other end and it’s a clumsy tackle by Zander but it’s outside the box.
“I’ve got video analysis up in the stand and he shows me the replay.
“I understand that it’s difficult for the referee but if he has any indecision, he doesn’t give a penalty, he gives it outside the box because it is outside the box.
“So from going 1-0 up, we’re 1-0 down and we’re playing a really tough team now. They’re a good on the counter and they pick us off and even the other penalty.
“Adam does great, comes out, the boys has a shot, runs into him and the ball goes away from goal and yet he gives a penalty.
“The referee hasn’t got any of the big decisions right and that’s the disappointing aspect for me.”
On the game itself, Wilder felt his side’s performance dipped below the levels of recent weeks as he conceded Dons were the better side.
He added: “In terms of their play, they were better than us tonight. We were a bit disappointing by our standards because we can play better. I thought we played well when we were 2-0 down and we got ourselves going and created a few chances but we didn’t show the quality that we’ve got.
“It’s just the manner. They picked pretty much their first team apart from a couple of injuries and suspensions but we obviously rocked them in the first game because they knew they needed to turn up tonight to get through.
“I felt OK at half-time. I thought they were better than us but they’re Championship players and we’re away from home so we had to hang in there.
“I was a bit disappointing with our quality and we were reacting more than anticipating. We had a bit of a go at the players at half-time and I thought we started on the front foot in the second half.
“We played higher up the pitch and it was pretty similar to the first game.”