Sheffield United: The four refereeing decisions responsible for costing Slavisa Jokanovic's side points this season

Sheffield United will enter this weekend’s game against Barnsley on the back of another refereeing controversy, after Slavisa Jokanovic admitted he “did not understand” the official’s “interpretation” of a potentially match defining moment of Tuesday’s contest with Millwall.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:15 pm

Having seen his own side reduced to 10 men early in the second period when Morgan Gibbs-White was shown a second yellow card, Jokanovic confessed he failed to understand why visiting midfielder George Saville escaped the same fate following a deliberate trip on John Fleck as United launched an attack.

With Gary Rowett’s side going on to snatch a 92nd minute winner, The Star looks back on four other contentious decisions which have gone against United this season and possibly altered the outcome of nearly a quarter of their Championship fixtures under the Serb.

Blades v Birmingham City – Handball

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Referee Matthew Donohue sends off Morgan Gibbs-White of Sheffield United during Tuesday's game against Millwall: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

United were chasing an equaliser, and gathering momentum, during the closing stages of the game on the opening weekend of the campaign when Fleck’s shot struck Gary Gardner on the arm. But Tim Robinson, who had earlier ruled-out an effort from City following Maxime Colin’s strike, refused to award a penalty. Gardner had turned his back on the ball and so did not deliberately handle. But United felt the midfielder’s limb was in an unnatural position. Their protests fell on deaf ears and City triumphed 1-0.

Blades v AFC Bournemouth – Penalty

With the score deadlocked and United growing in stature as they attempted to end the hosts’ unbeaten start to the campaign, Enda Stevens was adjudged to have fouled Dominic Solanke on the edge of the box. He did. Without question. The only trouble was everyone, other than Robert Jones and his assistant, could see the incident had taken place outside the area. Cue confusion all-round when a spot-kick was awarded and converted by the striker. There was a discussion about why Stevens wasn’t dismissed too, although under the double jeopardy law the Republic of Ireland international shouldn’t have been shown a red if Jones judged he had made an attempt to win the ball. But he wasn’t booked.

Blades v AFC Bournemouth – Offside

Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, will be hoping to avoid more refereeing controversies at Barnsley this weekend: Isaac Parkin / Sportimage

Gibbs-White had dragged United level following Solanke’s opener when Philip Billing sent the hosts’ to the top of the table, sliding home Ryan Christie’s cross. Jokanovic complained afterwards that an offside flag should have been raised during the build-up. United’s manager referred to “forces beyond our control” in his programme notes when they returned to action following the international break by beating Stoke City last weekend.

Blades v Millwall – No Card

United could have no complaints about Matthew Donohue’s decision to send Gibbs-White off early in the second period, with the match finely balanced at 1-1. Already cautioned following a first half challenge - the type of which would have barely raised an eyebrow 10 years ago but is now routinely punished - the midfielder did take a tumble when confronted by a visiting defender inside the area. Yes, you could argue he needed to take evasive action to avoid running into his marker. But Gibbs-White body shape as he fell betrayed the fact he had something else in mind. Millwall should also have been down to 10 men though when Jake Cooper fired home in added time. Already on a yellow card, Saville deliberately upended Fleck but escaped another caution.

John Fleck is amazed George Saville wasn't booked for hauling him down: Isaac Parkin / Sportimage