Dean Smith: Sheffield United ‘ghost goal’ and Leeds incident incomparable

Dean Smith says parallels should not be drawn between Sheffield United’s controversial ‘ghost goal’ and an incident involving his Aston Villa side against Leeds last season.

Sheffield United were denied a goal in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Villa Park after goal-line technology failed to register goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carrying Oliver Norwood’s free-kick over his line.

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It has led to debate over whether Villa should have allowed Sheffield United to score once the error was known, similarly to how Leeds’ boss Marcelo Bielsa instructed his players to let Villa’s Albert Adomah to stride through unopposed and equalise after Mateusz Klich had scored a controversial opener in a Championship game last season.

However, Villa boss Smith believes there can be no comparison drawn between the two incidents.

“It was totally different because about five minutes before (Leeds) scored they had a player down injured and we put the ball out, and then five minutes later we had a player down injured, our players stopped, and they carried on,” Smith said.

“Their manager rightly thought it was the right thing to do – that’s sporting integrity, this is technology.”

Smith did however admit that he felt sympathy for Sheffield United and he would have been just as apoplectic had the decision gone against his side.

However conversations around goal-line technology are not needed, Smith believes, as it was universally welcomed by those in football when it was introduced in the Premier League in 2013.

“There’s always going to be human error because we have referees and officials who are refereeing the games and that’s acceptable,” Smith said.

“We are very reliant on it, everyone wanted goal-line technology and I can honestly say I’m stood in the stand and myself and my coaches – and I know Chris Wilder and Alan Knill – at the time, we never knew the ball had crossed the line.

“We’re reliant on the referees and officials and we are looking at them and they had indicated that it hadn’t crossed the line.

“I feel sorry for Sheffield United and I would feel aggrieved if (the shoe) was on the other foot.”

Smith is keen though to draw a line under the incident and focus on the positives to emerge from a first clean sheet of 2020, insisting Villa will approach the Chelsea game on Sunday in a good frame of mind.

He was pleased about his side’s overall performance after watching them move to within a point of safety, with the three clubs above them all on 27 points with nine games remaining.

But Sunday’s visit of Chelsea provides a degree of unknown as it will be the visitors’ first taste of action since the restart.

“I said after the game there was no form leading into the game and I think we have shown that our form is growing,” Smith said.

“I thought we were the aggressors, I think the fact that Sheffield United only had one shot on target all game showed that defensively we were very good.

“When you come out of a game like that disappointed it shows that you’re on a good thing.”

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