Albion 2 Rochdale 2.

Gordon Greer must be reflecting today on an insane start to his Albion career.

To be sent-off on your debut for your new club is bad enough, when you are supposed to be setting an example as captain.

To be dismissed in a reckless manner when the issue of discipline is so fresh in the mind, both personally and collectively, is beyond belief.

Greer was returning from a three-match suspension arising from his previous competitive appearance, for Swindon in the play-off semi-finals last season.

Albion manager Gus Poyet also warned the players at a meeting last week of the need to cut out unnecessary red cards in the wake of Matt Sparrow’s early bath in the Carling Cup defeat at Northampton.

Greer’s high-footed challenge on Charlton striker Deon Burton a few months ago remarkably did not prove costly for Swindon.

They were 2-0 down at the time and 3-2 behind on aggregate, but recovered to go through on penalties.

The Scottish centre-half’s rush of blood was pivotal to the result this time, although it should not have also cost Albion a goal. For that you can blame an extraordinary clanger by referee Danny McDermid.

Nobody would argue with the army major’s decision to dismiss Greer early in the second half.

The visitors had just been awarded a free-kick when Rochdale made a substitution, introducing Anthony Elding.

The striker ran straight into the penalty area, clashed with Greer and was elbowed. McDermid was notified of the offence by his assistant via their microphone link and Greer was quite rightly sent packing.

McDermid’s blunder was in also awarding Rochdale a penalty. The free-kick had not been taken so the ball was not in play.

He should just have continued the game with the free-kick, not given Gary Jones the opportunity to put the visitors level from 12 yards.

No wonder Poyet wants McDermid suspended. He said: “You have got a referee who doesn’t have a clue if the ball was in play or not.

“The ball was not in play, you could see that from the video. I asked the linesman, he didn’t know. What an answer!

“When he walked off I said (to McDermid) how do you know the ball was in play? He said ‘err, err’. You know what that means? Not a clue.

“The worst thing is he didn’t know. If that is a player he will miss the next three or four games. He doesn’t, he is going to referee next week.

“That’s the problem we’ve got. Take him out, then maybe he learns.”

Galling as it is, Albion would surely have won if Greer had stayed on the pitch. They had taken the lead just five minutes earlier, Glenn Murray predictably marking his own return from suspension with a goal against his old club, and were firmly in charge at that point.

Poyet really must get a grip on his players’ lack of discipline, because it threatens to undermine their promotion prospects.

They suffered far too many red and yellow cards last season. The situation improved slightly once the Uruguayan took charge but it has already got out of hand again.

It would be hard enough to get a result at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday with a full-strength side. Heading to Hillsbrough without Greer and Sparrow, not to mention the stricken Alan Navarro, makes the task that much more difficult.

Albion should be cushioned by a maximum return from their opening two league games. After a first half of nice build-up play, lacking only a final ball or finish, Murray put them in the driving seat.

An unchallenged header from an Elliott Bennett free-kick hit the underside of the bar but he reacted quickest to nod the rebound into the roof of the net.

Even when they were at a numerical disadvantage Albion looked the better side. It was no great surprise when they restored their lead midway through the second half.

A poor defensive header from Radostin Kishishev’s header fell to Bennett 25 yards out, a disturbing scenario for any opposing side.

Sure enough the winger, turned central midfielder as a consequence of Greer’s departure, maintained his knack for finding the net from long range with a right-foot drive which found the bottom corner.

Rochdale only began to offer any sort of attacking threat in the closing stages. They needed an inexplicable error from Casper Ankergren deep into stoppage time to escape with a point.

The Dane was under no pressure when his poor punch from a harmless free-kick was expertly lobbed back over him by veteran skipper Jones.

It is a shame that Poyet has been badly let down in the last two games by three of his key signings – Sparrow, Greer and Ankergren.

There was plenty to admire about the performance. Kishishev and Gary Dicker worked well together in midfield and Bennett looks like being as influential again this season as he was in the last. As for Murray, Poyet said: “If he plays like I knows he can he is going to score 20-goals plus, as simple as that. The problem Glenn has is consistency.”

The problem Poyet has is keeping 11 players on the pitch.

Albion (4-3-3): Ankergren; Calderon, Elphick, Greer, Painter; Smith (El-Abd 53), Dicker, Kishishev; Bennett (Hart 89), Murray, Barnes (Battipiedi 90). Subs not used: Baz, Walker, Holroyd, Caskey.

Goals: Murray (47), Bennett (67).

Red card: Greer (52) violent conduct.

Yellow cards: None.

Rochdale (4-3-3): Lillis; Wiseman, Dawson, Holness, Widdowson; Kennedy, Jones, Barry-Murphy (Redshaw 71); Thompson (Done 65), Akpa Akpro (Elding 51), O'Grady. Subs not used: Goodall, Edwards, Andre, Tutte.

Goals: Jones (52) pen, (90).

Red cards: None.

Yellow cards: None.