By Adefunmiloye Alani

7th Sep, 2021 | 7:10pm

West Ham Women Expert baffled with referee's decision in 2-0 loss to Brighton

We’re delighted to welcome Michelle Irons as our exclusive West Ham Women’s expert. Each week she’ll be giving her views on the biggest talking points at Victoria Road…

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Michelle Irons does not agree with the referee sending Hawa Cissoko off against Brighton and Hove Albion in the Women’s Super League opener on Sunday.

West Ham Women were drawing 0-0 until the France international centre-back was shown her marching orders for blocking what appeared to be a goal-bound effort on the line.

The Hammers were in control of the game up to that moment, but the decision of the referee changed everything, and it ended in a 2-0 defeat for the visitors.

Manager Olli Harder believes a penalty and a red card for a handball that was not deliberate were harsh calls [West Ham official website].

Michelle Irons agrees, telling West Ham Zone: “It was a fantastic opening game as I think it being held at the Amex was a great decision.

“We started so brightly with (Adriana) Leon coming back into the starting 11 and I really noticed (Yui) Hasegawa looking to put in a few through balls to her.

“Cissoko started strongly as always, she really kept Danielle Carter at bay and ultimately the red card sending off was a game-changer.

“I felt so deflated after that as I was so positive that it was only a matter of time until we scored a goal.

“The decision was an odd one from the referee as I thought Hawa was very unlucky.

“The game was spoiled after that and it was just a matter for the rest of the outfield players keeping the score down.

“Overall we played well, albeit a few stray passes and mistakes but credit to the team they worked really hard and did us travelling fans proud.

“Unfortunately it puts us in an awkward position for the next game but we will be at home and hopefully we will see a few more singing fans!

Unfortunate

While Irons, Harder and most West Ham fans disagree with the ref, Brighton Women and their supporters would definitely argue that the red card was the right call.

There were calls for VAR to be introduced in the Women’s Super League after some other contentious decisions from the opening weekend and had the ref had an opportunity to rewatch the incident, Cissoko could have remained on the pitch.

Nothing can be done now to erase the defeat, but having VAR available could have changed all that, and the authorities need to get that implemented in order to help the officials make the right calls going forward.

West Ham Women will feel hard done by, but they need to quickly move on and prepare for next Saturday’s game against Aston Villa at Victoria Road.

With the fans set to be available to cheer them on, Harder’s side will be raring to go and keen to put in a commanding performance, and a victory would see them put Sunday’s disappointing outcome behind them.

In other West Ham news, Hammers respond as PAI Capital claim they have tabled second innovative bid.

Be sure to follow West Ham Zone on Facebook and Twitter for 24/7 updates on the Hammers and more exclusive interviews with Frank McAvennie.