Smith issues ‘cool it’ plea to Villa

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith insists his players cannot afford to boil over again ahead of the Play-offs.

The aftermath of last week’s Battle of Elland Road is still a talking point after the FA stepped in to take action following scuffles between Villa and Leeds last weekend.

And Smith says his players need to stay in control with promotion on the line.

The Villa boss has winger Anwar El Ghazi available for the final match of the regular season against Norwich on Sunday.

His red card, for allegedly hitting Leeds striker Patrick Bamford, was rescinded – wiping out a potential three match ban which would have seen him ruled out of both legs of the play-off semi finals.

But it could have been a different story for Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane who was caught on camera appearing to throw a punch at Leeds’ Mateusz Klich.

It was Klich who sparked the incident by scoring the opening goal when Leeds had been expected to put the ball out of play following an injury to Jonathan Kodjia.

The FA have charged both clubs with a failure to control their players.

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa says he will personally pay his club’s share.

Bielsa also defused the situation by gifting Villa an equaliser from the kick-off.

Now Smith wants his team to stay cool with so much at stake.

The Villa boss told reporters: “After they scored the emotions were very high because of what happened.

“Yes, you want more control from your players and you don’t want to see that kind of thing happen.

“They have to make sure they’re not putting themselves at risk or jeopardising themselves from future games in the play-offs.”

Smith referred the Hourihane incident back to the authorities and said: “If it’s been looked at by the FA then there’s nothing us or Leeds can do about it.

“I have no beef with Leeds. A lot has been said about playing to the whistle and kicking the ball out.

“My feelings on the whole thing are that the spirit of the game comes into it as well. I felt sorry for the referee and the officials.

“They can’t do anything at that stage. It is not against the rules. Adam Forshaw goes down and players know when someone is in pain.

“Their players asked us to put the ball out, which we did. Jonathan Kodjia went down. Our players asked for the ball to be put out and their players stopped as well.

“When Tyler Roberts or Klich don’t put the ball out there is an issue with the spirit of the game.

The fact Klich apologised to me after and the fact Marcelo Bielsa gives us a goal is answer enough to what happened and what should have been done. I give my full respect to Leeds for that.”

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