Dean Smith annoyed as Aston Villa denied late penalty against Brighton

The Villa boss says: “I don’t know what a penalty is now.”
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, left, against Brighton (Tim Keeton/PA)

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, left, against Brighton (Tim Keeton/PA)

By Sean Taylor, PA

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith was at a loss to explain the controversial decision to overturn a penalty and deny his side the chance to earn a late point against Brighton.

By Smith’s own admission, Villa were not at their best on Saturday and the visitors held on comfortably for a 2-1 victory in the end.

However, Albion were made to sweat in injury time as Tariq Lamptey was sent off for two bookable challenges in quick succession on John McGinn and then Jack Grealish.

Lamptey had not even taken his seat on the bench before Villa were then awarded a penalty, although replays suggested Solly March might have played enough of the ball in a challenge with Trezeguet.

Referee Michael Oliver thought so after taking a look at the pitchside monitor and overturned his initial decision, much to the irritation of Smith.

“I’m at a loss to explain it. I don’t know what a penalty is now. We could all hear the contact inside the ground,” said the Villa boss.

““If VAR thinks it’s not a penalty then just tell the referee it’s not a penalty. It wasn’t given so we have to take it on the chin.

“I thought VAR is there for clear and obvious. That was not clear and obvious to me. Everyone heard the follow-through in the stadium. My players said it was a penalty.”

Before the dramatic finale, Danny Welbeck’s first goal for Brighton set Albion on their way to a first win in seven Premier League matches.

The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker struck to give the visitors a half-time lead before Villa deservedly equalised at the start of the second half through Ezri Konsa.

Solly March quickly restored Brighton’s advantage with a lovely curling effort and in the end Villa ran out of ideas about how to get back into the match.

Smith said: “I don’t think we were bad. We missed chances and we’ve made big mistakes for their goals. We have to defend much better. Brighton were a threat on the counter but I wasn’t overly concerned.

“I thought we had control of the game and if we had taken our chances we would have won.

“I didn’t think we deserved to be beaten. I didn’t think we were at our best but I thought we were good enough to get at least a point.”

Villa are sweating on the fitness of Ross Barkley, with the midfielder due to undergo a scan on a hamstring injury which forced him off after just five minutes.

“He felt his hamstring and we’ll get it scanned. He seems fairly hopeful it won’t be too long,” said Smith.

Brighton boss Graham Potter was relieved to see the VAR decision go in his side’s favour, claiming Trezeguet had “exaggerated” the potential foul.

“In the last minute, or whatever it was in the game, your heart’s in your mouth and it would have been harsh on the players given the effort they put into it,” said Potter.

“It looked like it was a bit exaggerated if I’m honest and I thought Solly (March) got a touch on the ball but, again, it’s fine margins like I’ve said before.

“The margins are so small and you’ve always got to survive something. It’s nice to see one go our way though, that’s for sure.

“It’s a good three points especially coming to a place like Aston Villa where we wasn’t expected to have a lot of the ball.”

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