Tom Heaton on what Kevin Friend told Aston Villa players after controversial decision

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Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton has revealed what referee Kevin Friend told the players after his controversial late decision against Crystal Palace.

Henri Lansbury thought he had struck an injury-time equaliser for the visitors at Selhurst Park, but Friend had already blown his whistle and called play back.

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It related to a challenge on Jack Grealish, with the Villa players left further incensed by the decision to book their captain for diving.

Replays appeared to show that Grealish was in fact fouled and even jumped up immediately to try and continue play, but Friend deemed it worthy of a caution and Villa’s goal was chalked off.

Given that they’re in a scrap for Premier League survival this season, Dean Smith will know the importance of picking up points and game-changing moments like the one this past weekend.

In turn, he will undoubtedly be bitterly disappointed that his side didn’t return home with a point, and Heaton has revealed what Friend told the players after the full-time whistle after they remonstrated with him.

“The referee said to us at the end he had a clear view of it, but that is not my opinion,” he said, as quoted by The Telegraph. “I think there were a couple, maybe even three fouls in there, a shove in the back and then Gary Cahill wipes him out. I’m not sure with VAR, when it lands to Henri and it goes in, can you bring it back or not – I am lost on the details.”

Ultimately, there’s nothing that Villa can do about it now and they’ll have to quickly forget about that disappointment over the international break and focus on the next game.

Smith’s side next face West Ham United on September 16, and they’ll be itching to get three points at home to give themselves a morale boost after a difficult start to the season.

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