Hughes fumes at referee as Crouch header denies Magpies
Newcastle United 1 Stoke City 1
Stoke manager 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's Park.
Colback looked to have snatched victory for the Magpies with a 74th minute strike just three minutes after escaping a second yellow card for a late challenge on Victor Moses. He had been booked previously for a foul on Marc Muniesa.
The Potters hit back in the final minute of normal time through substitute Peter Crouch 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 the referee wasn't brave enough to make the right decision at a key moment.
"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 (Colback) 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."
St James's Park attracted its lowest crowd of the season, still an amazing 47,763, and perhaps the no-shows had the inside track on how things would pan out because there are inordinately better ways to spend 90 minutes than sitting through the majority of this non-event.
Stoke took 45 minutes to muster an attempt on goal, but when it finally arrived, it was a decent one
Newcastle looked to have snatched a barely-deserved victory 16 minutes from time when Colback fired the ball 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.
Newcastle are still without a home win this year and it stretched Stoke's impressive run to just a single defeat in nine.