A scoreline of Sunderland 3 Aston Villa 1 would have been flattering in the extreme. For a start, we don’t actually score three goals in the same game. And today we played for only the first 15 and last 10 minutes.
Both of the disallowed goals, Stokes’s in the first half and Collins’s in the final seconds, may have been correctly ruled out by Steve Bennett. Stokes was offside so we can probably eliminate my use of the conditional “may”, though either Jones or Wallace should already have buried the ball in the Villa net for a 2-0 lead before his diving header.
As for the “winner”, I have seen it twice, which Bennett had not when he blew for a push. It seemed a good goal to me and to the neutral standing by my side. Repeated playbacks could prove us wrong. And in any case, our players made many more elementary mistakes throughout the game than the referee.
But of one thing I have not the slightest doubt. Say we had scored an improbable equaliser during our even shorter spell of good play at Chelsea and, instead of stupidly conceding a penalty, kept it at 1-1 until the end. And then Lampard or Cole or someone had headed into our net in identical circumstances to our 93rd minute effort today.
Peter Walton – “I see only red card offences committed BY Liam Miller, not against him” – would have awarded the goal. Chelsea would have won. These things do NOT necessarily even themselves out.
In that narrow respect, namely which sorts of club get what kind of decisions, Roy Keane was right to raise questions about the key decisions.
No wonder Martin O’Neill offered the warmest of handshakes to the ref at the end. Despite Villa being better than us for long periods, Collins’s header threatened to leave them staring another defeat in the face after last week’s shocking performance against Portsmouth. Mr Bennett, bless him, got our boyhood supporter out of jail.