Enda Stevens brands a 'disgrace' Hawk-Eye failure that denied Sheffield United a goal at Villa Park

Wed, Jun 17 2020

Stevens in action for Ireland against Switzerland in 2019. Credit: Al Robinson (ETPhotos)

Enda Stevens has branded as a ‘disgrace’ the technical failure that saw a perfectly good goal chalked off in Sheffield United’s Premier League tie with Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

Oliver Norwood thought he’d given the Blades a 42nd-minute lead when his free kick was carried over the line by Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland.

However, referee Michael Oliver was not sent a signal to award the goal and the sides went in scoreless at the break, as they would at the final whistle.

Hawk-Eye, provider of the goal-line technology for the Premier League, said they ‘unreservedly apologises’ for what they say is the first such error in more than 9,000 games.

It was the first Premier League game to take place in more than three months following the shutdown due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Both teams had much to play for as the Blades hunt for a top five finish and a Champions League place, while Villa are scrapping to avoid relegation.

And Stevens said he couldn’t understand how such a failure was allowed to happen given the level of investment in technology, including Hawk-Eye and VAR.

“A lot of lads were around the ball and we knew it was in the back of the net,” the former Shamrock Rovers defender told BEIN Sport.

“We just couldn’t really understand why it wasn’t given. With the technology that’s in the game now, it’s mad to think decisions like that can’t be given.

“We knew they’d just made a massive mistake but we need the decision to be made there and then. There’s a lot on the line for both teams and to have a technical issue that doesn’t give us a goal is a disgrace.

“There’s no excuses for that. They should have been prepared for the game. You can’t really blame the referee because if he doesn’t get the signal from his watch he can’t give a goal.

“Whether that’s for other people to let him know, or just the old-fashioned let the linesman makes a decision, something had to be done because it was so far over the line.”

Stevens was one of two Irishmen to start in the Sheffield United backline, alongside John Egan, while David McGoldrick was introduced as a late substitute. Conor Hourihane featured for the Villains.

The draw sees the Blades move up one place to sixth, but they missed an opportunity to take the three points and move above Manchester United into fifth.

He added: “We never really kicked on after that, we never grew, and in the second half we didn’t really push on. We’ll take the draw and the clean sheet and move on.”