Sheffield United: Championship leaders' boss calls for refereeing clamp down on controversial tactic
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Despite seeing Chris Willock’s strike early in the second half leave them top of the Championship by virtue of goal difference alone, Heckingbottom focused his wrath following the contest on referee James Linington and his two assistants after complaining they had ignored the visitors’ delaying tactics until the closing stages.
Having regularly voiced similar complaints throughout United’s opening 12 outings of the campaign, Heckingbottom could now seek an explanation from the PGMOL; insisting the trend is not only placing his squad at an unfair disadvantage but also ruining the spectacle for spectators.
“The bit referees can get right,” said Heckingbottom, revealing Sander Berge had not been awarded a late penalty following a tangle with Andre Dozzell because he was also pulling the Rangers’ midfielder’s shirt, “Is the amount of time that’s being taken up by various things.
“Doing something about in in the 81st minute, it’s not good enough. If that’s what’s going to happen then unless we score in the first minute, we’re going to suffer aren’t we. And I don’t think that’s right.”
With the likes of Enda Stevens, Ciaran Clark and Jack Robinson already ruled out through injury, Heckingbottom’s frustration was compounded by the sight of Berge and George Baldock both sustaining knocks during the contest which threatens their participation at Stoke City on Saturday. Oli McBurnie will definitely sit out the trip to the bet365 Stadium, with Heckingbottom confirming the centre-forward had been cautioned for protesting to Linington following the final whistle.
On United’s display, Heckingbottom said: “I can’t be too critical, because I’d take that performance against a very good side every single week. Yes, we lost a little bit of balance but that was because of the personnel we were having to bring on, which was inevitable.
“There’s things we can always do better but credit to Rangers as well, because when we did look like getting through they seemed to have an extra centre-half or whatever in there.”