Michael O’Neill was scathing about the performance of referee Oliver Langford after seeing Stoke’s three-match winning streak end abruptly at Ashton Gate.
Tyreeq Bakinson volleyed the only goal on 38 minutes after a Tomas Kalas long throw was flicked into his path to give Bristol City only their second home victory since January.
Stoke hit the woodwork twice and spurned numerous chances. Their misery was compounded when Joe Allen dived into a challenge during nine minutes of injury and was sent off for a second yellow card.
O’Neill felt his side should have had three penalties and that the home side’s young midfielder Ayman Benarous should have been red-carded, instead of booked, for a second-half tackle.
“The officials missed so much in that game and the referee has to be stronger and braver than he was tonight,” fumed a frustrated Potters boss.
“There was a penalty on Jacob Brown in the first half and another when Tomas Kalas was guilty of a push in the back that he didn’t even try to disguise.
“Leo Ostigard was pulled to the ground for what also should have been a penalty and it wasn’t a great tackle from their young lad on Mario Vrancic because he was off the ground.
“He caught Mario and, although it was not too high, in this day and age it was a tackle you can’t make.
“Having said all that, we only have ourselves to blame because we didn’t take our chances and conceded from a set-piece.
“We were clearly the better side, but the goal gave them something to hang onto in the second half.”
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson admitted: “It was a night when the result was more important than the performance.
“They are a good side and could have been ahead early on. But we showed a great tenacity for defending our goal and there were a lot of positives.
“I thought our young lads, Alex Scott and Ayman Benarous, were exceptional and the senior players set them a good example.
“We have had some difficult moments here this season, losing points late in games. What stood out tonight was the desire to keep the ball out of our net.
“Callum O’Dowda’s second half display, both in terms of keeping his opposing wing-back quiet and creating things going forward, was very good.
“Stoke are a potent force and I never kid myself after games. They started the game well, but it didn’t affect our confidence or ability to work ourselves into it.
“We didn’t play with a lot of fluidity, but we had our moments.”
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