Villa boss Smith: Bournemouth’s Billing should have seen red

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.”

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