It is not very often when a Wembley Cup Final is going to be remembered for the referee's performance. Phil Dowd, in my humble opinion,gave Manchester United a completely unwarranted helpful hand. In the 4th minute of the game Gabby Agbonlahor was brought down by Nemanja Vidic winning Villa a penalty kick. Vidic and Agbonlahor were a good 5 yards clear of the nearest United player.
The foul was a deliberate professional foul and being the last man Vidic was looking at a straight red card. Dowd didn't have any option but to send the player packing as it is not even one of the times when the ref has any discretion. A blatant foul which, though conceding a penalty from which Milner scored, should have seen the man in red walk.
But no Dowd did what so many referees before him have done. Bottled it because it was a United player. I say bottled it because the alternative is not worth thinking about. He refused to even give Vidic a yellow card.
A few minutes later he made that decision seem even more ludicrous. On 12 minutes he books James Collins for bringing down Michael Owen. I am so confused at this point that I was half expecting Dowd to send Collins off. At one point it looked as though Dowd's mistake could lead to a very nasty incident but Villa settled back down and normal play resumed. The tackles became less fierce and the game ran it's course.
The statistics will show that Manchester United won by beating Aston Villa 2-1. I believe it would be fairer to say that Manchester United and Phil Dowd beat Aston Villa 2-1.