Belfast Telegraph

Stoke boss Mark Hughes says referee Martin Atkinson should be sidelined

Stoke manager Mark Hughes believes referee Martin Atkinson should not be officiating this weekend.

Hughes thinks Atkinson should face punishment for making a "fundamental game-changing error" in failing to send off Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet during Stoke's 3-0 home defeat on Wednesday night.

With the score at 1-0, Mignolet tripped Stoke forward Mame Diouf just outside the penalty area, denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. But instead of a red card, Atkinson felt a yellow card was sufficient.

Atkinson will be in charge of Watford's Premier League home game against Tottenham on Saturday.

Looking back at the incident on Friday, Hughes said: "My feelings reflect everybody else's view: the referees who reviewed it since and everybody in the stadium, apart from one.

"I don't see why he should be refereeing this weekend. It should be recognised that referees make mistakes. That's my feeling anyway.

"It was a huge moment for us clearly because at that point we were in the ascendancy and needed a bit of help from the officials and didn't get it.

"Those are the decisions that frustrate me as a manager - and other managers. Why it wasn't made I don't know. It was a pretty straightforward decision in my view and it wasn't made. It denied us an opportunity to have an advantage in terms of numbers. I am angry with that.

"When the officials aren't getting the decisions correct that they should be then it is frustrating."

The loss to Liverpool was a sixth defeat in 10 Premier League matches for Stoke but Hughes feels his team's performances are better than the results indicate.

"I'd argue on Wednesday that the performance was good," Hughes said. "We got to 77 minutes when the second goal went in and we had been well in the game.

"We lost to a last-minute goal at Crystal Palace when we had been the better team, as at Brighton when we drew. But if you don't get the results then it builds pressure."

On Saturday Stoke host Swansea, who are second from bottom of the table and four points behind Hughes' side. The 54-year-old admits it is a must-win match for the Potters.

"It feels that way, to be honest. Just for our own benefit and for those who watch us. We have to go out and get the results our performances deserve," said Hughes.

"We are a good side at this level. We continue to be a good side at this level. No one is suggesting playing Stoke City is an easy ride irrespective of our position in the league. We need to get back to winning ways and w e are looking for maximum points against Swansea."

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