Karl Robinson hailed Oxford’s matchwinner Ciaron Brown after his challenging week ended with a last-gasp goal in their 2-1 win at Fleetwood.
Brown, who has allegations of spot-fixing for his booking in their FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, poked in a 90th-minute winner as Oxford came from behind to win.
And Robinson was delighted for his defender, who popped up as stoppage-time loomed to break Fleetwood hearts.
“Ciaron has been impeccable through the course of these allegations,” he said.
“Some lies have been said as well – and there are lies that have been chucked into this – and there will be a meeting at FA headquarters, but what frustrates me is that in this country when someone throws mud at you it sticks and you have to prove your innocence whereas in football you’re always in the press and all over social media.
“The kid just wants to play football, now he’s got to prove his innocence and it’s a little bit unfair.
“He said it’s been one of the hardest weeks he’s ever had. He’s found it long and hard and on reflection he probably shouldn’t have played but he’s scored the winning goal so we’ll take that.”
Oxford had to do it the hard way after Brendan Wiredu had deservedly put the hosts ahead in the first half.
But, after Kyle Joseph scored a fine equaliser seconds after coming off the bench, Brown snatched the points with a goal that incensed the Cod Army, who were calling for a handball by Billy Bodin in the build-up.
“Billy has said it hit him just under the shoulder – in old money is it a handball?” added Robinson. “The sleeve is the guide, I’ve not seen it back but if I was Scott (Brown, Fleetwood boss) I’d be going crazy, I have to be honest.
“There is an element of question and it’s gone in our favour today. Things like that have gone against us a lot so maybe we deserved that bit of luck today.
“Today we’ve got a win out of a poor performance, we were probably the worse team if I’m being totally honest but we’ve won and when you do that and don’t play well it comes down to the players’ desire and team spirit.”
Fleetwood assistant head coach Steven Whittaker said they felt especially hard done by with the decision not to penalise Bodin, but admitted they should have been comfortably ahead at that stage of the game.
“We’re extremely frustrated and disappointed, that’s probably the right way to describe it,” he said. “We’d done enough in the game to win it in the first half and be far enough ahead to have a more comfortable second half but with only one goal in it you know they’re always going to be in the game.
“We can always defend goals better so we’ll look at that and try to improve but how the corner comes about is the main frustration at the end of the day.
“I’ve not spoken to the officials, I’m sure there’ll be some sort of inquiry because they’ll want to improve themselves and look at what they’re doing so it’s there to be seen, their lad’s hands are clearly away from his body and he controls the ball with his hand and that leads to the corner that they scored from.
“We need to be a bit more clinical, that’s the message to the boys – try to put games to bed. Once you get two or three the opposition can be quite deflated so we need to start putting ourselves in that position when opportunities come.
“It’s frustrating because we’d done enough in the game to feel we deserved something from it.”
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