SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson slammed the performance of referee Darren Deadman after losing to League One leaders Charlton Athletic.
Wilson described Deadman’s handling of key issues in the game as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘pathetic’.
Striker James Beattie, meanwhile, may have played his last game for the Blades after being sent off for violent conduct near the end of the 1-0 defeat.
Deadman, who also sent off Charlton substitute Darrell Russell for a two-footed challenge, disallowed an apparently legitimate ‘equaliser’ by the Blades shortly before half-time.
Charlton goalkeeper Ben Hamer dropped the ball over the goalline at a corner but Deadman awarded a free-kick against Blades defender Harry Maguire.
Victory would have lifted the Blades to within one point of the Addicks but they are now seven adrift and have been replaced by Huddersfield Town in the top two.
On the decision to disallow the goal, Wilson said: “It was embarrassing. The goalkeeper dropped the ball and Harry Maguire was getting wrestled by someone else at the back of him.
“The players couldn’t believe it. It was a bad decision. I don’t know what the referee thought he saw but the goalkeeper fumbled it and Harry was being pulled over the line by the centre-back.”
Substitute Beattie was sent off after a late melee sparked by Russell’s lunge on Blades midfielder Kevin McDonald.
The former England striker grabbed Yann Kermorgant by the throat but Wilson insisted that the French striker should also have been sent off for aggressive behaviour towards Matt Lowton.
Asked about the red card, Wilson said: “Pathetic. The instigator got away scot free. We will accept the fact that James went but the other one has got to go, too.
“I am not going to name the player but he was very aggressive towards Matt Lowton – very, very aggressive and James stepped in to pull him away.
“Now James has stepped in, possibly aggressively, but if one goes, the other goes, too.
“That’s the inconsistency”, he added. “And when you see 20,000 going mad at every decision that is given there is maybe something going wrong.
“I am very very disappointed that the fourth official and the linesman are looking clearly at what’s going on yet one is sent off and the other is not. The one who hasn’t been sent off was far more aggressive than the one that was.”
Although Wilson confirmed that the Blades will consider an appeal against Beattie’s red card, that may now be overtaken by events surrounding his future.
Beattie’s short-term deal expires at the end of the month and a number of other clubs, including one in the USA, are keen on his signature.
He has still not started a game for the Blades due to concerns over his match fitness and talks over extending his deal have stalled. Now facing a three-game ban, his second stint with the club may effectively be over.
“We are still in talks with his representatives but he has got quite a few offers and not necessarily in this country,” said Wilson. “But he quite likes being with us so we are still keeping our fingers crossed.”
Not surprisingly, Charlton manager Chris Powell had no sympathy for Beattie, saying: “I have just been told by my chairman – who is a lawyer – that strangulation is a criminal offence.
“He grabbed Yann and I don’t know whether the referee or the fourth official has seen it. There are some decisions that were questionable for both mangers but that’s how football matches are.”
Although disappointed with the result, Blades manager Wilson still took plenty of positives from his side’s performance at The Valley.
“I thought we fully deserved something out of the game,” he said. “We were fantastic for large parts of the game.
“We started ever so well and in the second half we completely ran the show. I am disappointed that we haven’t taken advantage of a couple of opportunities that fell our way and, overall, we are disappointed to have come away with nothing – but if we play like that between now and the end of the season we won’t be far away.”
Charlton captain Johnnie Jackson scored the only goal of the game with a free-kick – just as he had done a week earlier in his side’s victory over Sheffield Wednesday
“It was a fantastic free-kick but we are aggrieved as to how that came about in the first place,” said Wilson. “ The foul that was allegedly committed was never in a million years a foul.”
Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark has not given up hope of overhauling Charlton.
Speaking after Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Brentford, the Town chief said: “I don’t believe in what Gary Megson (Owls manager) said that no-one can catch them but they are beating all of us who come to them and that’s Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and ourselves.
“It’s made it a bit more difficult to catch them but Chris (Charlton manager Powell) knows it is not over by a long shot although his team are doing well so we have to keep chasing.”
Sheffield Wednesday dropped two home points in a 2-2 draw with Hartlepool but can join Huddersfield and the Blades on 53 points if they win their game in hand at Scunthorpe United tomorrow night.
Defenders Reda Johnson (back) and Rob Jones (ankle) are doubts after being substituted on Saturday.