Martin O'Neill takes fresh swipe at referee Phil Dowd + VIDEO

MARTIN O'Neill has taken a fresh swipe at Phil Dowd - the same referee who, in the Northern Irishman's eyes, denied him a League Cup triumph two years ago while in charge of Aston Villa.

Martin O'Neill during the game against Aston Villa

MARTIN O'Neill has taken a fresh swipe at Phil Dowd - the same referee who, in the Northern Irishman's eyes, denied him a League Cup triumph two years ago while in charge of Aston Villa.

The Sunderland boss found himself having to defend his time at Villa Park after Saturday’s 0-0 draw in the Midlands, as he was booed by some home fans as he walked towards the dug-out before kick-off.


It must be said that some of the home support applauded their former boss and many did nothing at all, which gave the impression many Villa supporters were thankful for the four years he spent at their club.

They would have been even more pleased with O’Neill had he led them to the League Cup against Manchester United when Nemanja Vidic should have been sent off after just a minute for a last-man foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor, instead Dowd only booking the defender.

It is a decision that still smarts with the Sunderland boss, and O’Neill said: “I will always have regrets about leaving Villa.

“I had four years there and the irony is that it went sour in the last year as we had finished our most successful season, six points off the Champions League, cup final, semi-finals.

“If Phil Dowd had done his job properly back in 2010 we’d have won that final. He’s been rewarded with an FA Cup final this year.

“Well done to him two years on, eh?”

Something else that irked O’Neill, and a somewhat more pressing issue, was his players’ passing up several good chances to score at Villa Park.

That on a day when both sides should have got at least two goals apiece.

The Black Cats boss said: “We haven’t scored in four games. We scored three before we went into this run, and since then it’s been a combination of factors.

“We didn’t deserve any goals last week against Wolves, but we should have scored about six or seven on Saturday. It’s the old cliche that if we are creating chances then we shouldn’t worry.

“I do worry though. Some of the chances we missed I could have scored myself and that’s disappointing. That’s the main frustration.”

There were some positives for O’Neill, whose side played some good football in the second half and would have won had Nicklas Bendtner not had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside.

He said: “James McClean was terrific for us and Jack Colback was excellent in the middle.

“James continues his great run, which is great. What is happening is that players are doubling up on him. He has to sort a few things out for himself. We help him along, but I thought he was excellent.

“He’s put five fantastic balls in that needed touching into the net.”

O’Neill saw Craig Gardner sent off in the final minute and, again, he felt slightly aggrieved by the officials’ decision.

“The sending-off? The first yellow was right, he held him back, but the second one was harsh,” insisted the Sunderland boss.

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