Villa boss Smith: Bournemouth’s Billing should have seen red
Midfielder was taken off at half-time.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said Philip Billing should have been sent off during the 2-1 home loss to Bournemouth.
Cherries midfielder Billing collected the first booking of the contest in the 36th minute for a foul on John McGinn, and made a number of subsequent challenges that might have seen him carded again before being substituted by Eddie Howe at half-time.
Smith, whose side went in at the break 2-0 down after conceding twice in the opening 12 minutes, said: “I think they (Bournemouth) have had a massive amount of fortune with Phil Billing staying on the pitch.
“He’s got booked and then he’s made a poor foul on Jack Grealish which wasn’t given, and then he’s made two more poor fouls after.
“He should have been sent off, there’s no doubt about that. I don’t think Martin (Atkinson, the referee) probably had his best game today.”
When Howe was asked if he had taken Billing off because he feared he would be red-carded, the Bournemouth manager said: “I just felt he couldn’t play his natural game. I felt he was one foul away from probably getting red-carded. So to protect the team, I felt it was a decision I had to make.”
Howe added: “I think it was a whole-hearted game. I think there were tackles flying in left, right and centre.
“I think he has probably harshly got the first yellow in my opinion, because I think he has got the ball, but then you could argue, you could look at it the other way and say once he had that yellow card he was maybe slightly fortunate to stay on the pitch.
“Referees have a hard job, he has made his call. But I felt I had to protect the team.”
Playing their first home Premier League game since May 2016, promoted Villa fell behind in the second minute through Josh King’s penalty, awarded after Tom Heaton brought down Callum Wilson.
Ten minutes later Douglas Luiz allowed a pass to run through his legs, Bournemouth debutant Harry Wilson claimed the loose ball and the on-loan Liverpool winger scored via a deflection off Tyrone Mings.
Villa reduced the deficit through a fine Luiz strike in the 71st minute but could not avoid another defeat, a week on from opening their top-flight return by losing 3-1 at Tottenham.
Smith said: “First minute and we give a probably needless penalty away. The lad’s going nowhere and Tom comes out in an area he probably never would do normally. Then we make a mistake with a square pass in midfield, Dougie lets it go and the lad lets fly from 30 yards and it deflects in.
“So that is a very hard place to start, but I thought we grew into the game after that, reset ourselves really well. We got on the front foot and we’ve had chances. But I probably don’t think our quality was there at times, certainly in the final third.
“Mistakes happen in every game. They’ve had a bit of fortune obviously with the second goal, with it deflecting off Tyrone.”
It was a first win of the season for Bournemouth, who drew 1-1 at home with Sheffield United last week.
Howe said: “It was a great start for us. We needed that lift I think after last week, where we conceded a late goal and there was a real feeling of disappointment. We responded in great style today.
“That gave us a platform to get into the game and show our best qualities at times in the first half. Then the third goal in the match was always going to be huge, we didn’t get it and we really had to show our steel in that last 15, 20 minutes.”