An injury-time strike from the US forward Tobin Heath salvaged a point against Manchester City at the Academy Stadium but there was controversy about the opening goal that led the Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall to call for greater support for WSL referees.
Eidevall was shown a yellow card in his second consecutive game, having also collected one during Arsenal’s midweek League Cup defeat to Manchester United, for protesting the heavy deflection off the referee that allowed winger Lauren Hemp to race free before sending in a low cross for Khadija Shaw to tap.
IFAB rules state that if the ball touches a match official, remains in the field of play and a team start a promising attack then play must be restarted with a dropped ball.
Heath’s 92nd-minute goal rescued a point for Arsenal but Eidevall questioned whether full-time officials would have made the same kind of mistake.
“If they’re going to be on Sky Sports refereeing matches they should be given all the resources that they need in order to prepare, practice and work on their fitness," hy het gesê. “I think that’s where we need to help each other in the football family. I’m much more [oor] trying to raise the standard around refereeing, because that will do that.”
“It was a great pass,” added Eidvall of the referee’s interference. “I was not happy about that goal. We all make mistakes. I do. I totally understand that. It’s part of football. I think the referee can also understand why we get upset.”
City’s manager Gareth Taylor said: "Ek bedoel, you’d like to think that it would even itself out, they all say that, if it was the case that it did hit the referee.
“We’ve been on the wrong end of that this season on many an occasion with refereeing decisions so it was nice if that was the case that one went our way.”
Arsenal may have been top of the league, six points ahead of their opponents and had enjoyed an emphatic 5-0 win in the reverse fixture. But the context could not have been more different going into the game at the wind tunnel that is the Academy Stadium. Arsenal had only one win, against relegation battling Leicester, in their preceding six games, conceding 14 and scoring five, with four of those goals coming in that solo win and the fifth an own goal scored by Hoffenheim.
Intussen, City had overcome an injury-crippling start to go on a six-game winning run and were boosted by the return of the defensive duo Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton.
After scoring 11 goals in their first seven league games of the season, City had scored 17 times in their four games prior to the visit of Arsenal.
It was Arsenal that pressed with greater intensity in the opening exchanges but struggled to find the final pass or a clean opportunity to shoot. Egter, City threatened on the break and Arsenal struggled to handle the pace and verve of Hemp and Jess Park, playing on either side of the centre-forward Shaw.
A characteristic Hemp run would provide the breakthrough, the forward sending in a cross that was tapped beyond Manuela Zinsberger by Shaw.
City still looked the more dangerous side despite Arsenal pouring forward in the six minutes of injury time at the end. However a long ball into the City box bounced around the penalty area before it fell to Heath at the back post to convert.
Arsenal move two points clear of Manchester United, who have played a game more, and four of holders Chelsea, who have a game in hand over Arsenal and two over United. Intussen, City stay fifth, one point behind Tottenham.