Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder claimed “poor decisions” had gone against his team after the 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
The Blades were reduced to 10 men in the 12th minute of the contest when skipper John Egan was given a straight red card, having tussled with Ollie Watkins and been judged to have denied the striker a goalscoring opportunity.
Wilder felt there should not have been a red card on that occasion, and that one should have been shown to Villa’s Matt Targett when his tackle on Chris Basham resulted in the visitors being awarded a 36th-minute penalty – Targett received a yellow card. In both cases, the incidents had a VAR check.
Wilder said: “In my opinion we were on the receiving end of two poor decisions.
“I think it’s difficult to be completely, 100 per cent certain from (referee) Graham (Scott)’s position that it wasn’t both players (Egan and Watkins) grappling for the ball.
“My big argument was the linesman had the clearest view in Villa Park – assistant referee I’ve been told they are called, so assist the referee. He made the decision not to wave his flag for a foul.
“For me, both were having a tussle with each other. It’s not clear, straightforward, and then obviously it goes somewhere else. I just don’t understand why that decision was a straight red.
“When I look back on both the situations, I don’t think the correct decision was given.”
Regarding the incident leading to the penalty, taken by John Lundstram and saved by Emiliano Martinez, Wilder said: “There’s no way in a million years Matt Targett can wrap his leg round and make an attempt to play the ball, so he impedes our player who is about to tap it in, it’s a goalscoring chance denied, and it’s a red card.
“Even if we miss the penalty, it’s still 10 v 10, which has a huge effect on the game.
“Maybe I need to go on a referee’s course, I think we all need to because there is so much confusion about stuff like this.”
Wilder, whose side were famously denied by a goalline technology failure on their previous visit to Villa Park, added: “You just (want) the consistency and the right decisions, and certainly on our last two visits, we’ve not got that.
“I’m completely confused. Having been a professional player and manager for the past 34, 35 years, I’m at my most confused in terms of how the game is and the decisions that are getting made.
“I was confused over the weekend watching some of the handballs, and I am even more confused tonight.”
Villa’s winner, in what was their first Premier League game of the season, came in the 63rd minute when Ezri Konsa headed home.
Villa boss Dean Smith – who said with regard to Egan’s sending-off that “as soon as he blew up for the free-kick I thought it was going to be a red card” – was full of praise for debutant Martinez, the recent signing from Arsenal, and defender Konsa.
“He (Martinez) is calm, assured, a great personality and character,” Smith said.
“He did what he had to do tonight – he was calm on the ball, he made a really good save for the penalty. Certainly he is a good signing for us, we believe.
“Ezri Konsa was outstanding tonight. We’re doing a lot better defensively. There was signs of rustiness tonight, but I thought we were worthy winners.”