Manchester United boss Marc Skinner called for better officiating in the Women’s Super League following two decisions he believes cost his side three vital points in their title chase.
Chelsea leapfrogged United and moved two points clear at the top of the table with a 1-0 victory at Kingsmeadow thanks to Sam Kerr’s stunning seventh league goal of the season.
The United boss, however, suggested the result was ultimately decided not by the goal, but by what he felt were a pair of penalties that were not awarded in the first half.
“I haven’t really mentioned much this season about it,” said Skinner. “But they’re stonewall in my opinion. The reality is we have to invest, you have to invest in the officials, we have to make sure that they can have that.
“You have to invest in the surrounding technology that can help. You put a lot of energy, a lot of effort into the training in the week, how we’re trying to progress, you can see our progression as a team.
“We’ve come in here without fear. That’s different, that’s a different Manchester United, and when you need things to go your way, even if one of them, there are two stonewall, but if one of them goes our way it’s a different game.”
Skinner’s side were unbeaten on the road heading into the afternoon’s match-up and enjoyed a 63 per cent possession advantage, while injuries and a bug spreading through the Chelsea camp had left Emma Hayes with a diminished squad.
The controversial calls came within minutes of each other. Nikita Parris was enraged when Kadeisha Buchanan brought her down inside the area around the 33-minute mark, and Skinner felt Jess Carter should have subsequently been penalised when she collided with Ona Batlle in the air.
“These are decisions that will make and break where you finish in a table,” said Skinner. “We say it balances out and I’m hopeful that we see it, but the reality is in that game today we should have had two penalties.”
Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten were among the Chelsea players unavailable to manager Emma Hayes, with Fran Kirby, Katerina Svitkova and Pernille Harder among the longer-term absentees.
Hayes was much happier by the effort on show from the three-time defending WSL champions, who she heavily criticised following last weekend’s defeat to Arsenal in the Continental Cup final.
She said: “I feel sometimes other teams get a hall pass for injured players. We’ve been without Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder almost the entirety of the season. I think this team deserves huge credit as a whole and not just Sam.
“We kept a clean sheet today after a difficult and underwhelming performance last weekend against Arsenal. We don’t have a full week’s prep every week. We have to play games every three days, so it’s tremendous from the team to show, I think, what we determine in-house as a real Chelsea performance.
“That’s what I was referring to last weekend. There are certain things we pride ourselves on and they were in abundance in today’s performance.”