The Villans kicked off their season on Sunday with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. The game itself was a real game of two halves, with the hosts dominating in the first half and the visitors applying relentless pressure in the second half. As tends to be the case, a stupid defensive mistake cost the Villans and the game was gone.
However, another thing that seems to have remained the same from last season is the officials missing blatant penalty decisions and not applying the laws as they should.
Debutant Ross McCormack was clearly not at full fitness, although that didn’t stop him making a number of runs at the defenders throughout the game. In the first half, an incident that was missed by many was when McCormack seemed to get past Tom Lees and was through on goal only to be pulled back by the Wednesday defender. Dean Saunders was vocal on this incident, saying: “For me, he’s pulled him back and as a striker I would be devastated if the referee didn’t give that.”
Sam Hutchinson was shown a yellow card in the first half following his reckless decision to pull Leandro Bacuna back by his shorts in an attempt to stop an attack. The referee awarded the free kick to Villa and Hutchinson was on the disciplinary tightrope.
In the second half, Hutchinson, rather similarly to the first half, stopped an attack by throwing himself into Alan Hutton, who was progressing down the left wing. The referee gave the free kick again, but there was no sign of the yellow card making a second appearance, much to the shock of any neutral watching the game. Andy Hinchcliffe, who was commentating on the game for Sky Sports said: “That is a yellow! He should be sent off, it’s as simple as that.”
So the referee was lenient with Hutchinson and gave him another chance, not ideal for Villa as it would have been a potentially game-changing decision. However, there was no point in protesting it as the referee had made his mind but, surely, if Hutchinson committed another foul, he would be off.
Hutchinson was again involved when the Villans had a very legitimate claim for a penalty, with the defender, who could seemingly do no wrong, hauling Nathan Baker to the floor. Once again, the referee and his assistant managed to miss this and no decision was given. It reminded me a lot of the penalty claims the Villans were denied against the Foxes at home last season.
It was a very eventful opening game, with a few decisions going against us, but over the season I would expect these things to even themselves out.