Women's Super League held back by amateur refereeing - Aston Villa boss Carla Ward

Aston Villa boss Carla Ward slammed the standard of officiating in the Women's Super League, saying it is holding back the growth of the league.

Villa were held to a 1-1 draw against Brighton on Saturday after forward Julia Zigiotti Olme struck late to cancel out Kayleigh Green's first-half own goal.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

However, Villa were denied a penalty late on but saw their appeals waved away by referee Louise Saunders.

The standard of officiating in the WSL has been a repeated source of frustration for managers, players and fans this season, and Villa head coach Ward became the latest voice of criticism after the match.

"Listen, we're talking about professional football, we're talking about a professional league, we're talking about players that get out of bed every day and it's their profession and what we've had today is amateur officiating and it's not okay," Ward said.

The league has implemented better refereeing standards with more reviews and accountability in place, including having former referee Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb oversee PGMOL's women's select group.

As part of her duty in the role, Steinhaus-Webb and her team have a strong dialogue with clubs, and Ward told ESPN she is keen to discuss the decisions from Saturday's game.

"The fourth official [Robert Massey-Ellis] just mentioned to me then that he'd love to have a conversation about that because he probably felt he had to make quite a lot of decisions from where he was stood and that shouldn't happen so, we'll have a conversation with Bibi. Monday morning we'll be on the phone," Webb added.

Reading boss Kelly Chambers said earlier in this season that player and coaching jobs could be lost over poor refereeing decisions, a sentiment Ward highlighted on Saturday.

"It's not just, me, it's every single manager and every single player and every fan wanting the standards to go up but as you're seeing there's a lot of talk and not a lot of action so at what point do we realise that professional football careers as managers ... their futures are sometimes in the hands of those who aren't professional and that's not okay."