West Ham manager Avram Grant was left rueing his luck after his side’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke at the Britannia stadium yesterday.
Stoke booked an FA Cup semi final date with Bolton in a game where the referee seemed to get just about every decision wrong.
On paper it will look like Stoke were deserved winner, after winning 2-1 and seeing a Matthew Etherington penalty saved by Robert Green but in fact West Ham deserved at least a replay.
Robert Huth opened the scoring for Stoke in the first half with a thumping unmarked header from a Rory Delap throw before Frederic Piquionne bundled home an equaliser after the referee missed a blatant handball from the striker as he controlled the through ball.
Mike Jones seemed to have seen the incident at half time and made amends by gifting Stoke a penalty 13 seconds into the second half after Etherington clearly dived past Scott Parker and won the kick.
Green made a great save before a Higginbotham free kick after 65 minutes was too hot for him to handle and Stoke once again found themselves in the lead.
The free kick was again controversial as it was awarded for handball by a player protecting his face standing in the wall of another free kick 10yards further back.
Stoke then got lucky again late on as Jon Walters hauled down James Tomkins in the box only to bizarrely be awarded a free kick to himself.
Avram Grants was left disappointed by the string of events and said, “I think maybe this is the reason the referee started the second half very strange.
“Until they scored [the second] goal he gave fouls, a penalty, everything for them.
“It was a penalty for us at the end which he didn’t give.
“Maybe he felt a little bit guilty. I think it was the effect of the first goal for us.”