London: The old adage that "it never rains but it pours" rang true for Stoke City on Thursday as they were thumped 5-1 by Newcastle United in the Premier League and had two players and manager Mark Hughes sent off.
They also had to do without Asmir Begovic who will be out for up to six weeks after the Bosnia goalkeeper broke a finger in training on Christmas Day.
Tenth-placed Stoke were leading 1-0 thanks to a goal from Oussama Assaidi when referee Martin Atkinson dismissed visiting midfielder Glenn Whelan in the 40th minute for a second bookable offence.
Fellow midfielder Marc Wilson then received a straight red card for bringing down Loic Remy in the area, although the Frenchman failed to beat Thomas Sorensen with his 44th-minute penalty.
"I was absolutely dismayed by the performance of one of our more senior referees," Hughes told the club website (www.stokecityfc.com).
"Up to the point of the first sending-off I thought we were totally in control of the game. We were 1-0 to the good and Newcastle were finding it very difficult to really have an impact on the game.
"Then the referee makes a couple of decisions which changed the course of the game.
"We saved their first penalty and then went down the other end with nine men and had a chance to play someone in for a clear opportunity on goal.
"It gets handled by (Newcastle defender) Mike Williamson and the referee who is two yards away doesn`t give anything and they go straight up the other end and score," said Hughes.
"You can understand why we felt aggrieved at halftime and then to really compound things the ball goes out of play in the build-up to their second goal and nothing is given."
Remy led the fightback with two goals for sixth-placed Newcastle. Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse (penalty) were also on target for Alan Pardew`s team.
Hughes`s temper reached boiling point when Wilson was sent off and the manager was directed to the stands for expressing his disgust.
"There was a ball near me and I needed to get rid of some frustration so I booted it on to the pitch," said Hughes.
"It was totally the wrong thing to do and I apologise for that although I`d like to think he (Atkinson) would have understood my frustration at that point of the game."