Friend goes into Hughes’ bad books

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Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Stoke boss Mark Hughes accused referee Kevin Friend of not being brave enough to send off Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback during a hard-fought draw at St James Park.

Colback looked to have snatched victory for the Magpies with a 74th-minute strike just three minutes after escaping a second yellow card – he had earlier been cautioned for a foul on Marc Muniesa – for a late challenge on Victor Moses.

The Potters hit back in the final minute of normal time when substitute Peter Crouch levelled to claim a 1-1 draw but Hughes, who was sent to the stands in the corresponding fixture last season after Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were dismissed in a 5-1 drubbing, was far from placated.

He 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 to Newcastle as well and 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 are not here advocating we want players sent off, but the referee needs to be strong and make the right decision there, and unfortunately he didn’t.

“The lad is 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 strong and made the right decision, they would have been down to 10 and I think we would have won the game.

“As it’s panned out, we have thankfully shown great determination and haven’t allowed that decision or the conceding of the goal to affect our determination to get something out of the game, and we have gone up the other end, a great ball by Geoff Cameron and a fantastic header.”

Opposite number John Carver, however, thought Friend had got it right.

He said: “Jack is a very, very competitive footballer and we are not going to change that, we are not going to take that out of him.

“But I thought the referee handled the game extremely well, because there were a few tackles went unpunished. This is a competitive game – you can’t tell me that Whelan and Nzonzi and Bardsley aren’t competitors.

“They are and that’s the way the Premier League should be. I don’t have a problem with that. But I thought the referee managed the situation quite well.”

Newcastle looked to have snatched a barely-deserved victory 16 minutes from time when Colback fired home off the inside of the post.

However, having passed up two glorious chances to cement the win, they succumbed in the 90th minute when Crouch looped a header over the helpless Tim Krul from Geoff Cameron’s cross.

Carver admitted his players had lacked professionalism in failing to see the game out to secure what would have been back-to-back league victories.

He said: “It’s hugely frustrating. It wasn’t a classic, was it? It was a pretty average game, certainly one game that is not going into my DVD collection.

“There are two minutes on the clock, we get a free-kick, it goes into the final third, we play four or five passes backwards back to our goalkeeper, who kicks it. We are out of shape and before we know it, it’s in the back of the net.

“Now that’s not professionalism, for me. There are two minutes left on the clock, go and run the ball into the corner and see the game out 1-0 and take a scrappy 1-0 victory.

“But it wasn’t to be. That’s why I am frustrated.”

Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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