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Sunderland boss Keane furious at ref after Villa draw

Sunderland boss Roy Keane was left fuming by ref Steve Bennett after their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Bennett ruled out Danny Collins' header four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game for a push on keeper Scott Carson, to the astonishment of the bulk of a crowd of 43,248 at the Stadium of Light, and no-one more so than the Irishman.

Keane was apoplectic as he tried to discover why Collins' effort had been chalked off by a referee who once dismissed him for aiming a blow at Newcastle striker Alan Shearer.

Asked if he felt his side had been cheated, he nodded and then said: "What's there to see? It was a header, we scored, three yards out and the referee disallows it for...I don't know.

"You have seen it, but my gut feeling was it was a straightforward goal.

"But my concern is the referee was already blowing before we headed it.

"I don't know, you will have to ask him when you see him what it was for. I am sure he will come up with something.

"But we will end up talking about the referee over the next few days when we should be talking about two good teams who had a good go at each other in a good Premier League game.

"But I think this referee will enjoy that if he is the centre of attention over the next few days.

"I can talk to you about the game, but that won't be mentioned, it will be about the referee and his performance.

"We are all criticised - I was very critical of myself for the team selection against Everton, players get criticised, everyone gets criticised.

"I had a feeling. I saw him (Bennett) at the hotel last night and I just thought..."

Keane could find himself in hot water with disciplinary chiefs over his outburst, although he insists his comments are fair.

He said: "I have not criticised him, I have just said he got the call wrong, a massive call wrong."

The controversial finale was in keeping with a game which was eventful throughout with Villa dominating for long periods, but the Black Cats creating the better chances.

They took the lead when Danny Higginbotham headed home Ross Wallace's 10th-minute corner, and they might have added to he early strike twice in the closing stages of the first half as Kenwyne Jones caused major problems.

But the visitors finally got back on to level terms on 73 minutes when Shaun Maloney curled home a superb free-kick within six minutes of replacing Craig Gardner.

Martin O'Neill's men looked the more likely winners as time ran down, but Grant Leadbitter wasted a glorious 87th-minute chance before Collins' delirious celebrations were so rudely interrupted.

The Villa boss could understand Keane's anger, but could also see Bennett's point.

He said: "I have seen the free-kick fleetingly back, and personally, I think he puts his arm across.

"However, I can see if Sunderland see it in a different light, but had we been beaten, I would have been desperately disappointed.

"I would have been terribly disappointed had we been beaten in the game because I thought we dominated.

"I do not think anyone would have felt who was in the ground and saw the game that we did not deserve something from the match."

Asked if he had spoken to Keane, O'Neill replied: "I am going to see him now - and I will be rather petrified going in.

"Maybe I will just stay out of there - and I haven't got any wine to give him."

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Tribal Football Staff

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