Higginbotham claims referee influenced by shouts

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Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham has claimed referee Stewart Attwell allowed himself too be influenced by 'who shouted the loudest' in their 2-1 defeat to Bolton at the weekend.

The Potters were leading with just five minutes to go when Attwell, at 27 the youngest Barclays Premier League official, awarded a free-kick for a foul on Vladimir Weiss after some hesitation.

Matt Taylor scored from the set-piece before snatching the winner but Higginbotham was unhappy with Attwell's performance.

"There were a couple of decisions we weren't happy with, but you've got to be careful what you say these days," he said in the Stoke Sentinal. "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 was a late replacement for Martin Atkinson, who was shifted to the Manchester derby after Steve Bennett was left stranded on the continent by the closure of British airspace as a result of the cloud of volcanic dust covering Europe.

He has suffered regular criticism since being fast-tracked into the elite group of referees.

Attwell infamously awarded the "ghost goal" for Reading at Watford in September 2008 and this season he came under fire from the usually mild-mannered Wigan manager Roberto Martinez for sending off Gary Caldwell in the March defeat at Manchester City.

Martinez was subsequently charged with improper conduct by the Football Association.

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Stoke City
Danny Higginbotham
Bolton Wanderers
Premier League

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