Coppell could have directed his calming words to anyone from his first- half scorer Neil Shipperley, to most of the argumentative Villa players, including the late, late equaliser Julian Joachim, to his defender Jamie Smith who marked his home debut by being sent-off. Instead, he was talking about the card-happy referee Jeff Winter, who was drafted in from Stockton as a late replacement for the poorly Peter Jones. Get well soon, Mr Jones.
Winter booked eight players, largely for dissent, and was the real star of the game. "That's the second time we have had that referee and he booked about four players for dissent last time," Coppell said. "He was too tight - he should chill out."
Villa's ill-disciplined anger concerned Shipperley's 42nd-minute opener. There was no problem with the finish - a brilliant diving header from Andy Roberts' free-kick - but Villa claimed Palace had taken it from the wrong place. The strikers Dwight Yorke and Savo Milosevic were both booked for their aggressive protests and Ian Taylor was eventually added to the list when he continued the row two minutes on.
The game was not much better after the break and the frustrated Villa fans had the solution - bring on the midfielder Sasa Curcic. Fortunately, the Villa manager, Brian Little, ignored their advice, opting instead for Joachim with 15 minutes to go.
Little's gamble was loaded in his favour when Palace had Smith sent off five minutes later. The recent signing from Wolves had been harshly booked for dissent in the first half and then proceeded to trip Ian Taylor in mid-flow on the left wing.
A Villa goal still seemed unlikely until Milosevic turned to strike a 25-yard shot that Kevin Miller spilled. Joachim reacted first to finish from four yards and almost added a second in the final exchanges which really would have been tough on Palace. And this result does little to resolve Villa's confusing start to the season.Reuse content