Michael Laudrup, Swansea’s manager, accused Robert Madley of costing his side victory over Stoke after the referee – officiating in only his third Premier League game – awarded Mark Hughes’ side a controversial 94th-minute penalty that earned them a point in south Wales.
Having battled back from 2-0 down to take the lead with four minutes remaining thanks to Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony’s second goal of the game, Wayne Routledge was adjudged to have handled inside the box following Robert Huth’s header. That allowed Charlie Adam to equalise from the spot and deny Swansea a first victory since mid-October, much to the usually mild-mannered Laudrup’s chagrin.
“I have to be careful about what I say because I could get a fine, but I am more frustrated than ever. There was only one man in the stadium who saw it was a handball and unfortunately that was the referee,” he said. “There were seven Stoke players inside the box and none of them asked for a penalty. Only Peter Crouch asked for a corner. It would be nice if the referee could say he was sorry.
“If I thought the players deserved to win on Thursday (against Kuban Krasnodar) then I think so even more against Stoke. It’s all because of a bad decision.”
Unsurprisingly, Stoke manager Hughes saw it differently as his side moved out of the relegation zone with their fourth draw of the season.
“The ball was flying around the box and Steven Nzonzi tried to direct it towards the goal and their lad was in the way,” he said.
“Was there a movement in the arm? We will say yes and Swansea will say no. I can understand why they are aggrieved and they are decisions that can go for you and against you. We will take the break.”
Jon Walters and Stephen Ireland – who scored his first goal since December 2011 – had given Stoke a commanding 2-0 lead inside the opening 25 minutes, with Crouch providing assists for both goals. Walters’ goal, on eight minutes, came as Ashley Williams, the Swansea captain, was off the pitch getting treatment.
Yet a stirring second half comeback by Swansea saw Bony score twice either side of a Nathan Dyer equaliser, before the late drama unfolded.
“We don’t give away a lot but we are being severely punished at the moment,” Laudrup reflected. “I said to the players we have to continue and believe in what we are doing at 2-0 down, and it was an absolutely fantastic second half.”
Swansea (4-3-3): Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, de Guzman (Shelvey 71), Pozuelo (Canas 90); Routledge, Bony, Lamah (Dyer 55)
Subs not used: Zabret (gk), Amat, Taylor, Vazquez
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Pieters; Walters, Ireland (Wilson 71), Nzonzi, Palacios (Adam 71), Arnautovic (Etherington 55); Crouch
Subs not used: Sorensen (gk), Whelan, Jones, Assaidi
Attendance: 19, 242
Referee: Robert Madley
Man of the match: Bony (Swansea)
Match rating: 8/10
For Premier League Sunday - as it happened, CLICK HERE