Brighton defender Lewis Dunk has slammed referee Lee Mason after he controversially disallowed his goal during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to West Brom.
Dunk thought he had levelled for the Seagulls with a quickly taken free-kick towards the end of the first half, but the goal was ruled out as Mason had blown his whistle twice in quick succession.
To add to the confusion, Mason then appeared to change his mind and award the goal before it got referred to VAR, which saw it ruled out again.
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Referee Mason blew his whistle to allow Brighton to take the free-kick while West Brom were still setting up their wall, with goalkeeper Sam Johnstone stood next to the right-hand post.
Dunk responded to the whistle by placing the ball in the opposite corner, but almost immediately Mason blew his whistle again.
The Brighton players were left furious and remonstrated with the official, arguing that the ball had crossed the line before he had blown for a second time.
Mason then awarded the goal but was advised by VAR to review the incident on the pitch-side monitor, where he also tried to explain the situation to the two bemused managers.
Upon reviewing the incident Mason concluded that the ball had not crossed the line before he had blown for a second time, so the goal was ruled out.
What did Lewis Dunk say?
Dunk was understandably angry at the perceived injustice and said he felt Mason had lost control of the game.
He also said the official, like players and managers, should have come out and explained his decision-making to the media.
"It's embarrassing, it's a horrendous decision,” he told Sky Sports.
“I said to the ref, 'can I take it?' He blew his whistle and I took it. Just because there was so much pressure from the bench. Why doesn't he come and speak to the press like me? Never, they hide behind their bubble.
"I don't think he knew what he was doing. He gave the goal, why did he give it? I don't know why VAR was getting involved, he said 'goal'... you can look on the video if you want.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter was equally nonplussed and wants some clarification on the reasons behind the decision.
“As far as I know Lewis Dunk asked to take the free-kick quickly and the referee said yes,” he told Sky Sports.
“In between that there was another whistle. I don't know what that whistle was for. It would be nice for a bit more clarification. I don't know what the second whistle is for. I don't understand that.
"The confusion is on the pitch and it gets worse when someone outside this area is making the decisions. It is what it is.”
The bigger picture
Kyle Bartley’s 11th-minute header earned a priceless three points for West Brom, but that does not even begin to tell the story of what was a hugely controversial and incident-packed afternoon.
Brighton also missed two penalties - Pascal Gross hitting the bar in the first half before Danny Welbeck struck the post in the second - and spurned numerous chances to earn themselves a point.
Graham Potter’s side have now mustered 40 shots in their last two games against West Brom and Crystal Palace but have scored just once and lost both games.
It means they missed the chance to put further daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, with 18th-place Fulham just four points behind Brighton ahead of their game at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
West Brom are five points further back in 19th, but will hope this win can act as a springboard for an unlikely survival bid.