Daily Mail

United boss rages as ‘stonewall penalties’ swing title race

- KATHRYN BATTE at Kingsmeado­w

MARC SKINNER was left raging after Manchester United were denied two stonewall penalties that could have huge implicatio­ns in the title race. The victory saw Chelsea go above United at the top of the Women’s Super League but Skinner’s side, who dominated possession, were unhappy with the officiatin­g.

The manager stopped short of saying Chelsea get preferenti­al treatment, but mentioned several refereeing decisions that have gone their way this season. ‘Two penalties in a game like this are massive,’ he said. ‘When I look back over the balance of the last few games, Chelsea get a goal that’s offside the other day against Brighton. These are decisions that make and break where you finish in the table. We say it balances out, I’m hopeful we see it. ‘They’re stonewall when I watch them both. We have to invest in the officials, in the technology that can help. We’ve come to the champions’ home ground and put our stamp on it, you need those things to go for you.’ Chelsea are the team United cannot beat. Seven times they have tried, seven times they have failed. This was arguably the best chance they have had since their promotion but United, who have been scoring for fun, were stifled in attack.

The moment of magic was once again provided by Sam Kerr (left), the Australian scoring the only goal of the game to make it six in seven against the Red Devils.

Chelsea were missing players through injury while others had a stomach bug, including boss Emma Hayes, who only just made it to the game. ‘It’s three points, we’ve done it, we’ve had illness, we’ve had injuries. To do that, to perform like that, is exactly what I’ve said every week about why the squad matters,’ Hayes said. ‘We had to be structured defensivel­y and we were. We could have won by more.’ Chelsea started strongly as Kerr sent a shot down the throat of Mary Earps before the striker forced the England goalkeeper into a fine stop with her feet. But she would not be denied a third time midway through the half. Lauren James picked up the ball just inside her own half and hit a superb lofted pass that picked out Kerr in between the two United centre backs. The striker chested the ball down then chipped a half-volley over Earps. United failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first 30 minutes, but had two big penalty shouts just before half-time. Nikita Parris was tripped by Kadeisha Buchanan in the box after getting to the ball first. Then, two minutes later, Jess Carter clattered into Ona Batlle as they went up for a header. On both occasions referee Cheryl Foster waved play on. Despite continuing to dominate possession, United failed to really test Ann-Katrin Berger in the Chelsea goal as Kerr, James and Melanie Leupolz all went close for the hosts. The result leaves Chelsea two points clear of United with a game in hand. CHELSEA (4-2-3-1): Berger 6; Perisset 6.5, Bright 7.5, Buchanan 7, Carter 6.5; Ingle 6, Leupolz 7; Fleming 7 (Eriksson 75min, 6), James 7.5 (Rytting Kaneryd 62, 6), Charles 6.5 (Mjelde 90+1); KERR 8. Booked: None. Scorer: Kerr 23. Manager: Emma Hayes 7. MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): Earps 6.5; Batlle 6.5, Le Tissier 6.5, Turner 6.5, Blundell 6; Zelem 5, Ladd 6 (Garcia 90); Parris 7 (Mannion 82), Toone 6 (Williams 71), Galton 6 (Thomas 71, 6); Russo 6. Booked: None.

Manager: Marc Skinner 6.

Referee: Cheryl Foster 5.

Attendance: 3,277.

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