Charlie Austin branded the controversial decision to disallow his goal “a joke” and accused the officials of costing Southampton two points following the 1-1 draw with Watford.
Striker Austin looked to have doubled Saints’ one-goal advantage with 24 minutes remaining at St Mary’s when he fired home Nathan Redmond’s cut-back.
But, as he celebrated with team-mates on the touchline, the strike was ruled out by referee Simon Hooper because Maya Yoshida – who did not touch the ball – was standing in an offside position.
Hornets defender Jose Holebas subsequently levelled the game late on following Manolo Gabbiadini’s first-half opener.
“It’s ridiculous, they (Watford) shouldn’t be in the game,” Austin said in a post-match broadcast interview.
“We score a perfectly good goal, make it 2-0, game’s done and dusted.
“The officials cost us two points today. It’s a joke.
“We go on about VAR (video assistant referee) this, VAR that – help the officials out, clearly they need help.
“We play in the Premier League, the best league in the world, the most-watched league in the world, give them all the help they need because clearly they cost us two points today. It’s a joke.
“We deserved three points today, but we’ve been let down by the officials and that’s why we didn’t get three points.”
At the end of a week where Southampton sacked vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter, under-pressure manager Mark Hughes looked set to taste Premier League victory for the first time in eight games.
Hughes shared Austin’s frustrations and claimed referee Hooper, who was taking charge of only his second top-flight fixture this term, was too inexperienced and below the required standard.
“It’s a match-defining moment, it’s a game-changing decision that they’ve got wrong and that’s all we ask for as managers, that the key moments in games when the result is at risk they’ve got to get the correct decision,” said Hughes.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t. We’ve been given an inexperienced referee today.
“I don’t know how many games he’s had – one, two, four?
“Our game is just as significant to us as the Manchester derby (on Sunday). Would PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body responsible for match officials) have given him that game? Absolutely not.
“To us, this game is even more important. For us to have a referee who, unfortunately on the day, wasn’t quite up to the standard required, it’s hard to take.
“I’m not questioning their integrity or their thinking behind what they are actually seeing.
“Clearly, he thought he saw Maya Yoshida head the ball in, which begs the question, if that’s what he’s thinking, maybe he shouldn’t be at this level.”
Hooper, who consulted assistant Harry Lennard over the disallowed goal, had a busy afternoon on the south coast.
After Gabbiadini’s 20th-minute opener, the official denied Watford what looked to be clear penalty when Ryan Bertrand, who had already been booked, scythed down Nathaniel Chalobah.
Austin’s strike was then chalked off to the dismay of supporters who have witnessed one win from the last 17 home league games, before Holebas levelled via a deflection off Cedric Soares.
Asked about Watford’s penalty incident, Hughes added: “They should have got the penalty.
“They (the officials) have got that one wrong as well, that’s a match-defining moment.”
Watford boss Javi Gracia, whose side climbed above Manchester United into seventh on goal difference, played down the controversies.
Speaking about the penalty incident, the Spaniard said: “I didn’t see it from my position, it’s impossible to know what happened.
“But after asking Chalobah he told me it was clear and maybe changed the game from that moment. But I prefer to support the referee’s decision, it’s difficult their job.”
Asked about Austin’s disallowed goal, he replied with a wry smile: “If I didn’t see the penalty…”
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