Ref Attwell earns Potters blast

Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham claims referee Stuart Attwell was influenced by 'who shouted the loudest' against Bolton Wanderers.

Higginbotham was part of the side that lost 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday following a dramatic late fightback from the Trotters.

However, the full-back was outraged after he felt Attwell – the youngest Premier League referee aged just 27 – was swayed into awarding Bolton an 85th minute free-kick from which Matt Taylor drew them level.

Taylor then snatched a dramatic late winner to further rub salt into Higginbotham and Stoke's wounds.

"There were a couple of decisions we weren't happy with but you've got to be careful what you say these days," he told The Sentinel.

"There was a couple of times when he looked as though he wasn't sure.

"It wasn't so much the free-kick itself, but more the fact he looked at it for a few seconds and it looked like a case of who's shouted the loudest."

Attwell has regularly found himself at the centre of controversy since being fast-tracked into the elite group of referees permitted to officiate Premier League games.

His highest-profile gaffe was awarding Reading the now infamous 'ghost goal' in a Championship game against Watford in September 2008.

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