Johnson slams ‘dope’ Kusunga after last-gasp defeat

Date published: 17 February 2014

GENSERIC Kusunga was branded a “dope” by manager Lee Johnson after his red card helped Athletic to an added-time defeat at MK Dons.

Kusunga (25) was dismissed in the 65th minute at Stadium MK after bringing down Stephen Gleeson to pick up a second yellow card of the afternoon.

It was his second red of the campaign and will earn him a two-match ban — covering the home clash with Gillingham on Saturday and the return visit of the Dons to Boundary Park on February 25.

But while unhappy with his player, Johnson also pointed to the haranguing of match officials — including referee Chris Sarginson — by Dons staff, featuring Dons manager Karl Robinson.

“These people are professionals and he has let the team down,” said Johnson, who accepted he could have hauled-off Kusunga earlier to remove the danger of going down to 10 men.

“To be fair, he has stood up and apologised to the lads. It was through some real dopiness that he has allowed himself to get sent off. You expect someone who has played in the Champions League to be sensible enough not to make a rash challenge like he did.

“You could say MK Dons earned it by getting on to the referee and fourth official about Kusunga. Certainly, two or three of them in the first half weren’t fouls. But with the verbal presence down by the technical area, Robinson has managed to put the seed in their mind and Gensy played to that.”

Ben Reeves’ winning goal turned around a game the Dons were trailing at half-time thanks to Adam Lockwood’s header. Samir Carruthers’ solo goal had levelled shortly after half-time.

Athletic remain in 15th in Sky Bet League One, four points clear of the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Athletic captain Korey Smith is “touch and go” to be back in contention for the visit of Gillingham. Smith took a knock to a knee in the Bristol City game. The worst-case is a three-month lay-off, but the swelling has gone down quickly enough to indicate he may be in with a chance for Saturday.

SIDNEY Schmeltz has had his contract with Athletic cut short. The summer signing is heading back to his Dutch homeland after an unsuccessful stint at Boundary Park. And Kirk Millar’s impending loan move to Stockport County has been delayed due to the forward picking up a knock in training.