Hand of Rod still niggles Smith

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith hinted he has not forgotten West Brom’s ‘Hand of Rod’ incident at The Hawthorns.

Smith’s side will face Albion in the two-legged play-off semi-final – with the first match at Villa Park next Saturday.

And there is still some needle between the teams. Not only are they local rivals, but Smith is still unhappy with the outcome of their Hawthorns clash in December.

Villa were heading for a 2-1 win until Baggies striker Jay Rodriguez equalised even though he clearly pushed the ball over the line with his hand.

Smith was furious with the match officials at the time – and he still feels it was a moral victory.

The game proved to be a turning point for Villa who lost Jack Grealish with a shin injury for three months after that game.

And Smith’s side’s form slumped for three months until it picked up in March when Grealish returned.

Smith told reporters: “This place will be rocking and it will feel like that gives us a goal-start here.

“The last game we were beaten 2-0 and not at the top of our game.

“We didn’t have a full squad.

“But in my head we went to their place and beat them.”

Smith might have been named Albion manager 12 months ago as he was in the frame before Darren Moore got the Baggies job.

He added: “It’s very interesting, the games we’ve played already it was Darren Moore who was in charge, but now Jimmy is.

“It will be a little bit different. But I don’t suppose it was ever going to be a 5pm game with these sides!”

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