Referee Phil Dowd was the pantomime villain in Saturday’s Midlands Derby after he controversially Aston Villa’s sent Chris Herd off as West Brom snatched their first league victory at Villa Park in 32 years.
Goals from Jonas Olsson and Paul Scharner gave Roy Hodgson’s side a well deserved 2-1 win after Darren Bent had given the home side the lead from the penalty spot. However Herd’s red card 10 minutes before half time was the main talking point with many feeling his altercation with Olsson in the penalty area wasn’t worthy of such punishment. It proved to be the difference as Albion claimed their second consecutive win and made it four game unbeaten. 10-man Villa, on the other hand, have lost their last two and will feel they deserved more after sacrificing the lead Bent had given them from the penalty spot. They started the game strongly and should have opened the scoring only for Bent to fire his shot over from eight yards after collecting Barry Bannan’s mis-hit shot. The diminutive Scotland midfielder was next to try is luck flashing a volley just wide of Ben Fosters goal as Villa pushed for the opener. They should have been down to 10-men on the quarter hour mark after Alan Hutton’s two footed lunge on Shane Long saw referee Dowd produce only a yellow with the Irish striker leaving the field on a stretcher. It got worse for the Baggies moments later after Steven Reid’s hesitation saw him bring Gabriel Agbonlahor down in the area allowing Bent to convert from 12-yards.
The goal woke West Brom up as they finally started to play some football before they were handed a spot kick of their own in controversial circumstances. Olsson and Herd tangled off the ball as they waited for a free kick to be taken with the Swede going to ground prompting Dowd to send the Villa man off much to their supporters bewilderment. Captain Chris Brunt stepped up but embarrassingly sliced his penalty wide of the goal as the hosts breathed a huge sigh of relief. They couldn’t hold on though and were pegged back just before the half time whistle when Olsson towered above the Villa defence to head home Brunts corner to the derision of the home fans.
Their man advantage started to pay dividends and Scharner lashed home what ultimately turned out to be the winner acrobatically lashing home a corner from the left. Despite their efforts Villa struggled to rescue the game and tired quickly leaving them open to attacks on the break. They almost conceded a third when Peter Odemwingie was played in but the Nigerian mis-kicked in front of goal as the visitors held on to claim a memorable win over their Midlands rivals.