Hughes rages at rookie ref­eree af­ter Southamp­ton hit new low

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Ben Fin­don at St Mary’s Sta­dium

So the wait goes on. Southamp­ton re­main with­out a home win this sea­son af­ter Jose Hole­bas’s 82nd-minute thun­der­bolt swept away the prospect of vic­tory, opened up by Manolo Gab­bia­dini’s first-half strike. Rub­bing salt into the wounds, they were also en­raged at a dis­al­lowed goal.

It all wrote a new, painful chap­ter in Southamp­ton’s his­tory, the first time the club have failed to win any of their first six home league matches of a sea­son.

Mark Hughes’s side are now win­less in their past eight matches, scor­ing just four and con­ced­ing 17 times. They have se­cured just one league win all sea­son, and their short­com­ings at home are now chronic.

Yet, it might have been so dif­fer­ent. Sub­sti­tute Char­lie Austin ap­peared to have given his side a 2-0 cush­ion in the 68th minute, but rookie ref­eree Si­mon Hooper er­ro­neously ruled that the ball had gone in off team-mate Maya Yoshida, who was off­side.

Austin said: “We scored a per­fectly good goal that was ruled out for off­side. That’s a joke. Peo­ple go on about VAR, and they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world, give them the help they need.

“We de­served three points and would have got them but were let down by the official.”

Hughes was also bit­terly crit­i­cal. “It was ridicu­lous. Maya was about a foot and a half away from it. It was a matchdefin­ing mo­ment, a game-changer that they got wrong,” he said.

“We’ve been given an in­ex­pe­ri­enced ref­eree to­day. Four games? Our game is just as sig­nif­i­cant to us as the Manch­ester derby. The ref­eree was not up to the stan­dard re­quired. It’s hard to take.”

Southamp­ton struck in the 20th minute af­ter Wes­ley Hoedt’s header had been pushed away by goal­keeper Ben Fos­ter.

From the re­sul­tant cor­ner, the vis­i­tors’ Roberto Pereyra daw­dled on the ball, which was prod­ded for­ward by Danny Ings for Gab­bia­dini to stroke home.

Eight min­utes from the end, Southamp­ton failed to deal with a cross from the left, a de­flected clear­ance and there was Hole­bas to lash home, via a de­flec­tion off Cedric, from just in­side the penalty area.

Southamp­ton’s en­ter­prise con­tin­ued, but Watford also posed a threat and felt ag­grieved they did not get a penalty when Ryan Bertrand ap­peared to bring down Nathaniel Chalobah just be­fore the hour.

Javi Gra­cia, the Watford man­ager, took a rather dif­fer­ent stance to­wards of­fi­cial­dom than his Southamp­ton coun­ter­part.

“I pre­fer to sup­port the ref­er­ees, it is dif­fi­cult to do their job,” he said. “It wasn’t the best game. They cre­ated good chances, but we im­proved and showed char­ac­ter.”

Fu­ri­ous: Char­lie Austin be­rates the ref­eree

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