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Tony Pulis relieved after Stoke victory over West Ham

Stoke boss Tony Pulis (left) and his West ham counterpart Avram Grant in the background
Pulis (left) and Grant were both unhappy with referee Mike Jones

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was relieved refereeing decisions did not cost his side a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.

West Ham levelled the score at 1-1 after Frederic Piquionne seemed to handle the ball on the way to scoring, before Stoke emerged 2-1 victors.

"We have been very unfortunate this year, we have copped quite a few [bad decisions] in the league," said Pulis.

"When they get their first shot on goal from that it was disappointing. It looked a stone-banker handball."

Following the controversial Hammers equaliser, referee Mike Jones awarded Stoke what seemed like a soft penalty after winger Matthew Etherington went down when challenged by Scott Parker and James Tomkins.

Etherington had his spot-kick saved by West Ham keeper Robert Green but Danny Higginbotham drilled in a free-kick to secure the win and book the Potters a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1972.

"Matty came out in the second half and missed a penalty and that knocks you down again but great credit to the players - for a lesser team that would have affected them," added Pulis.

It was a penalty for us at the end which he didn't give

West Ham boss Avram Grant

"For two and a half years at this club, since we were promoted, we have been written off.

"We have got to three quarter-finals of cup competitions, now we have a semi-final.

"We've finished 12th and 11th in the Premier League and the players and chairman deserve a hell of a lot of credit."

Stoke avoided playing either Manchester United or Manchester City when they were drawn against Bolton in the last four of the FA Cup.

And, despite a huge cheer from Stoke's fans when the draw was announced shortly after the win over West Ham, Pulis stressed that he is wary of the Trotters.

"I think it is being disrespectful to Bolton to say it is the draw we wanted, we just wanted to win today," commented Pulis.

"We will treat them with total respect. If you look at Bolton and their history, they have been a Premier League side a lot longer than us and have established Premier League players.

"We will respect them and we know it will be a tough game for us."

West Ham boss Avram Grant stated that his side should have had a penalty when they were 2-1 down for what he believed was a foul on Tomkins from Jon Walters as the pair jostled for a corner at the far post.

Grant also claimed the referee might have been more favourable to Stoke after missing Piquionne's apparent handball.

"I think maybe this is the reason the referee started the second half very strange," he said in reference to the award of Stoke's penalty.

"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. What happened with Tomkins was more bushido [the Japanese code of conduct for samurai warriors].

"Maybe he felt a little bit guilty. I think it was the effect of the first goal for us."

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see also
Stoke City 2-1 West Ham United
13 Mar 11 |  FA Cup
Man Utd to face Man City in semi
14 Mar 11 |  FA Cup
Sunday football as it happened
13 Mar 11 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
13 Mar 11 |  Football

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