Manchester United manager Marc Skinner called for a better function in the Women’s Super League after what he believed to be two decisions cost his side three vital points in their title bid.
Chelsea overtook United to move two points clear at the top of the table with a 1-0 win at Kingsmeadow thanks to Sam Kerr’s impressive seventh goal of the season.
However, the United boss suggested the result ultimately wasn’t decided by the goal but by two penalties which he said were not awarded in the first half.
“I haven’t really mentioned that much this season,” Skinner said. “But in my opinion they are a stone wall. The reality is we have to invest, you have to invest in the officers, we have to make sure they can have that.
“You have to invest in the surrounding technology that can help. They put a lot of energy, a lot of effort into training throughout the week as we try to make progress, you can see our progress as a team.
“We came in here without fear. This is different, this is a different Manchester United and when you need things to come your way, even if one of them goes there are two stone walls but when one of them goes our way it’s a different game.
Unbeaten heading into the afternoon game, Skinner’s side enjoyed a 63 percent possession advantage, while injuries and a virus spreading through the Chelsea camp left Emma Hayes with a reduced squad.
The controversial calls came within minutes. Nikita Parris was furious when Kadeisha Buchanan brought her into the area at the 33 minute mark and Skinner felt that Jess Carter should have been punished afterwards when she collided with Ona Batlle in mid-air.
“These are decisions that make or break where you land on a chart,” Skinner said. “We say it’s equal and I hope we see it, but the reality is we should have had two penalties in this game today.”
Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reit were among the Chelsea players unavailable to manager Emma Hayes, while longer-term absences included Fran Kirby, Katerina Svitkova and Pernille Harder.
Hayes was much happier with the performance of the three-time WSL title holder, whom she heavily criticized after last weekend’s Continental Cup final loss to Arsenal.
She said: “I feel like sometimes other teams get a hall pass for injured players. We’ve been without Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder for most of the season. I think this team deserves a lot of credit as a whole and not just Sam.
“We kept a clean sheet against Arsenal today after a difficult and stunning performance last weekend. We don’t have a full week of preparation every week. We have to play every three days so it’s great for the team to show what we internally define as a true Chelsea performance, I think.
“That’s what I meant last weekend. There are certain things we are proud of and they were in abundance in today’s performance.”