Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Hughes: Walters red was harsh

Mark Hughes felt Stoke were unlucky to only draw with Norwich

Stoke boss Mark Hughes described Jonathan Walters' red card as "too harsh for the crime" and felt his side were on course to beat Norwich at the time of the dismissal, only to end up having to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Bradley Johnson had put Norwich ahead at Carrow Road just after half-time as the Canaries looked to pull further clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, but Chris Hughton's side were pegged back courtesy of a Walters penalty 17 minutes from time.

Sebastien Bassong was guilty of bundling down Stoke substitute John Guidetti and former Ipswich man Walters silenced the home faithful as he smashed the resulting spot-kick past John Ruddy.

But Walters' celebrations were short-lived as he was shown a straight red card less than five minutes later after catching Alex Tettey with a high challenge.

Hughes felt the penalty decision was correct but was not as pleased by referee Andre Marriner's decision to dismiss his player.

"I've looked at the incident and there is contact and Jon has accepted that he caught him," he said.

"But both players had their feet high and I think the punishment was too harsh for the crime. Both players just intended to win the ball and Jon just caught him with his follow through.

"It was the first sending off of Jon's senior career so he is obviously very disappointed and he now misses three games.

"As for the penalty, Guidetti was impeded and Jon as always took responsibility and dispatched it with aplomb. At that stage I thought we would go on and win the game but then the sending off changed everything."

The Potters were guilty of spurning a number of early chances as Norwich struggled to get up to the speed of the game but Hughes hailed the desire of his side to get back into the game after Johnson's opener.

"I thought we were the team in the ascendancy first half and we had more control of the game," he said.

"We had a number of chances and should have converted at least one of them. Second half we knew Norwich would come back at us and they did. But it was disappointing to concede the goal from the set piece. At that stage we had to show some character and we went out and won the penalty."

The equaliser keeps Stoke ahead of Norwich in the table, with Chris Hughton's side four points clear of the relegation zone.

Hughton had a different view than Hughes on the penalty decision and felt his side had relinquished a great chance to rack up a second home win in succession.

"It was not a classic game," he said.

"I think it's two points dropped rather than a point won. I thought it was a very soft penalty but Bassong didn't have to go for the ball. Another referee might not have given it.

"It was disappointing because I thought we were comfortably in control of the game at that point. Walters was certainly high and he certainly caught Tettey. So I think the red card is one that most referees would have given."

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