Hughes bemoans confusion over new refereeing directives


Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes that his side were once again on the wrong end of a dubious refereeing decision after his side were beaten 1-0 by Everton.

Hughes' side were second best for much of Saturday's Premier League clash at Goodison Park, with Everton taking a deserved lead - if fortuitous in the manner of its arrival - when Ashley Williams went down under pressure from Phil Bardsley, with Michael Oliver pointing to the spot.

Leighton Baines' subsequent penalty clattered off the upright before going in off Shay Given to leave Stoke with one point from their three matches.

And Hughes, whose side were penalised in a similar scenario against Manchester City last week, believes that there needs to be more consistency in the implementation of the new refereeing directives set out in the close-season.

"I feared this would happen with the new rules, that we would be penalised more readily than others, based on what's happened with previous teams that I've managed," Hughes said.

"Once again we've been damaged by another dubious penalty in my view, and it's won the game for Everton. There has to be that consistency, and that's the key word here. The decisions need to be the same right across the board.

"It's a huge decision and it needed to be correct, so it's even more frustrating. There's no push from Bardsley, so how you can give a penalty for that - I don't quite know where we are with it all to be honest.

"I don't think there was a great deal between the sides. I think we needed to do better in the final third, but when we're conceding goals to penalties it's very difficult, especially away from home."

In response to the rule changes, Hughes also claimed that he and his coaching staff have considered utilising different defensive techniques from set-pieces in order to avoid further decisions going against his side.

"We are seriously thinking of changing our approach now to set-plays, maybe we consider zonal marking as it may help us - or take certain individuals away from man-marking," he added.

"Hopefully in a few weeks all of it can return to a bit of normality and sanity once everyone has settled down."