Ezri Konsa was shown a red card by referee Chris Kavanagh after the defender was adjudged to have denied a clear goal scoring opportunity for Jarrod Bowen. And with Villa trailing just 2-1 at the time, it was a decision that essentially killed the game.
Kavanagh had initially shown a yellow card to Konsa but after a consultation with VAR and a quick trip to the on screen monitor, he overturned his decision and instead gave the defender his marching orders.
It was this, as well as the judgement to not even the numbers up when Pablo Fornals clashed with Marvelous Nakamba, that left Smith scratching his head at full-time.
“It was a frustrating day and sometimes when things are going against you, things happen. I don’t think it was a red card,” he said.
“We’ve ended up conceding a third goal when we’ve only got eight outfielders on the pitch and rules of the game state, Marvelous Nakamba - because the lad has been booked for fouling, shouldn’t have been on the pitch which might stop that third goal.
“I felt at 2-1 we showed enough character and quality to stay in the game and still push West Ham. It was always going to be a counter attack or us getting that next goal. There were parts of our performance that I was pleased with. I wasn’t pleased particularly with the start and obviously we’ve conceded four goals.
“I have to [question the officiating] because I don’t believe it’s a red card, so I don’t know the process they are going through for VAR.
“The referee on the pitch has made his decision. Is that a clear and obvious error - is he clean through on goal? No, I think you’d have to question whether he’s clean through on goal. But then when I’ve spoken to the referee after and he said his touch has gone towards goal and I’ve seen it after and it clearly isn’t going towards goal so for me that’s a poor decision.”