By Graham Hill
THE referee for Villa’s clash with Derby at Wembley has been named – and he has history with Jack Grealish.
Paul Tierney will be the man in the middle for the Championship play-off final.
Ian Hussin and Adrian Holmes will be the assistant referees, while Chris Kavanagh will be the fourth official.
And Tierney will be a man known to Villa skipper Grealish.
He sent him off in a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in 2017.
Grealish was sent off for a second yellow card, before the then 17-year-old Ben Brereton fired in from Britt Assombalonga’s header down to win it for Forest in stoppage time.
His dismissal changed the momentum of a second half which Villa had controlled after Jonathan Kodjia had put Villa ahead after 19 minutes.
But Grealish collected a second yellow card for a mistimed challenge on ex-Villa defender Eric Lichaj – he already been booked in the first half for kicking the ball away.
After the game, former Villa boss Steve Bruce defended Grealish: “I just got the distinct impression from the referee today that he couldn’t wait to send him off.
“He’s passed the ball back to them, it’s not as if he’s kicked it away. He gives him a yellow card, he’s missed a challenge. There were other challenges that were similar that didn’t get a yellow card
“In my opinion, I’m probably a bit biased of course, but he couldn’t wait to send him off with the reaction of the crowd.”
Grealish has undoubtedly matured since those days and has shown he can keep a cool head as his career goes from strength to strength.
That was the second red card of his career but he has not been given another one since.
Tierney has dished out 96 yellow cards in 31 games so far this season, and only one red. Last season, he did not send anyone off in 32 fixtures.