MARK Hughes accused referee Kevin Friend of lacking the “bravery” to send off Jack Colback in Newcastle United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City.
Friend failed to give Colback a second booking when he fouled Victor Moses in the 71st minute at St James’s Park, and the midfielder later went on to give United the lead.
Peter Crouch’s last-minute header secured Stoke a share of the spoils, but afterwards Hughes could not hide his displeasure at the decision not to red card Colback.
The Stoke manager said: “The disappointment, as you would imagine, is the fact that the referee wasn’t brave enough to make the right decision at a key moment in the game.
“Given the yellow cards that were dished out, not only to ourselves but Newcastle as well, given the nature of the offences that caused him to give yellow cards, for him not to give a yellow card to the lad Colback when it was clearly a second yellow...
“We’re not here abdicating we want players sent off, but the referee needs to be stronger and make the right decision there.
“Unfortunately he didn’t, the lad was allowed to stay on the pitch, and lo and behold he goes and scores the goal that possibly might have stopped us taking anything out of the game.
“If the referee had been stronger and made the right decision, they would have been down to 10 men and I think we would have won the game.”
Hughes also heavily criticised the officials after Stoke’s last visit to Tyneside, which ended in a 5-1 defeat last season after two Potters players were red carded.
He added: “Once again, the officials have played a hand.
“The interpretations of a few of the challenges were wrong, on a number of occasions. I suppose that’s just the performance level of the referee.
“I’ve seen the referee have much better games than he did today. He’s a good referee, in fairness, but today some of his decisions left a little bit to be desired.
“In terms of the game itself, I thought we dominated possession, as an away side.
“We restricted Newcastle – who had a great result last week and came into the game on a bit of a high themselves - to a few counter-attacks.
“I seem to recall one outstanding save from Asmir (Begovic), but apart from that, I thought we were in real control of the game.”