Roger Dilkes, the former Premier League referee, and Mark Lawrenson, the ex-Liverpool defender, have defended Neil Swarbrick after he was accused of bias during Sheffield Wednesday's 4-2 defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Swarbrick awarded 16 fouls to Villa at Hillsborough, but only one to the Owls - despite separate appeals for a penalty when George Boyd was felled, and a red card for John Terry after the Villans captain appeared to trip Wednesday's Atdhe Nuhiu as the Kosovan bore down on goal.
Appearing as a guest on this week's The Ref Show, however, Lawrenson insisted that Swarbrick does not need defending - a stance with which Dilkes agreed.
Discussing the discrepancy between the two teams' foul counts, Dilkes explained: "It is an imbalance but it can happen. You look at who’s on the offensive more than the other team, then you look at, we always used to say once you get into the last 10 minutes expect the foul count to go up, because the players are getting tired. They’ve been chasing players around, they’ve not been on the ball, it’s very tiring. For players on the ball it’s great just knocking it about."
The 69-year-old added that he is more surprised by the low number of total fouls  - although he failed to disagree when it was suggested that Sheffield Wednesday should have had a penalty, as well as a red card for Terry.
Dilkes continued: "Those  were the actual fouls given. You look if it was an end-to-end game, how many fouls did he play advantage from? And you can get the imbalance to be closer than it was. There’s lots of things that come into controlling a game. And if it’s end-to-end you really don’t want the referee involved."
Wednesday were drawing at the time of both ignored incidents [1-1 and 2-2, respectively] and Aston Villa took full advantage of the let-offs, scoring two goals in the final three minutes courtesy of Connor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass, who did appear to have been fouled by Boyd despite some accusations of diving from the Hillsborough faithful.
Did Aston Villa get off lightly against Sheffield Wednesday?