An apoplectic Steve Cooper has insisted Swansea City will go above the normal level of feedback to complain about referee Tim Robinson.
Swans manager Cooper was left in a despairing fury over the calls made by Robinson after seeing his team lose 1-0 at Fulham where a succession of critical decisions went against the away side.
Aleksandar Mitrovic missed a controversial 87th-minute penalty before the striker sealed Fulham’s victory with a header in the fourth minute of added time.
Mitrovic headed his 23rd goal of the season from Aboubakar Kamara’s cross moments after seeing his spot-kick saved by keeper Freddie Woodman.
That penalty decision – harshly awarded against Connor Roberts – was bad enough for Cooper, but there were also three penalty appeals by the Swans turned down by Robinson.
The last of those was waved away when Conor Gallagher was hacked down from behind when he was through on goal – a sequence of play that ended with Mitrovic’s dramatic and spectacular winner.
The defeat leaves Swansea five points adrift of the play-off places, with games running out.
They have 11 matches remaining and to reach a target of 75 points – the average finishing tally for clubs who squeeze into the final play-off spot – they would need to take 24 more points, or eight victories.
In a telling assessment of how he viewed Robinson’s role at Craven Cottage, Cooper said: “I’ve said to the players all along we have to stick together and be strong.
“Whatever we do this year it won’t be for a lack of fight, even if we are playing against more than just the teams we are playing against.”
Choosing his words carefully so as not to invite a disrepute charge, Cooper added: “We are struggling to look past the penalty decisions which were cruel on us, all four of them.
“I’ve been to see the referee and I’m not going to criticise too much here. But we’ve just said we have to report this beyond the normal system of reporting referees’ performances because we can’t let this happen.
“We need to help the game. If we don’t share our feelings we won’t be helping the game.
“The whole team did well tonight. Apart from an early shot I can’t think of another clear chance they had before the penalty.
“It’s a tough one at the moment. We have been unfairly treated tonight by the officials.
Cooper believed his side should have had two other penalties before Robinson adjudged Fulham’s Neeskens Kebano to have been fouled by Roberts.
There appeared to be a clear handball by Fulham defender Joe Bryan and Andre Ayew was brought down in the penalty area by Denis Odoi.
The decisions all went in favour of Fulham however, and their manager Scott Parker believes the manner of the last-ditch success spoke volumes about the progress of Mitrovic and the rest of his players.
The Fulham manager said: “I have been in this job for a year now and speak to the players about the detail and the way we want to play. But I talk about mentality more times than anything.
“We have had some disappointing results here and have fallen short of that side of the game in terms of what top teams do.
“But top teams do what we have done tonight. We missed a penalty and there was an option for Mitrovic to think this was not his night.
“But he had the desire and mentality to know it had to go on his head. That’s what pleases me most and that’s a big moment for me.”
He added: “People forget how young Mitro is. He is only 25. I say to him that top strikers have a mentality about them.
“Sometimes he lacks that belief and it’s moments like this tonight that will help make him understand what determines whether you are a top class player or team is how you react.”