Danny Higginbotham has blasted Stewart Attwell's handling of Stoke's 2-1 defeat to Bolton on Saturday.
The Potters led the Britannia Stadium contest with five minutes to go but suffered a late collapse to finish the game empty-handed.
Higginbotham believes Attwell had a major bearing on turning the tie in favour of the visitors, as he was influenced by 'who shouted the loudest'.
He feels a late free-kick awarded for a foul on Vladimir Weiss, which allowed Matt Taylor to level matters, should never have been given and allowed the Trotters to establish much-needed momentum heading into the final stages.
"There were a couple of decisions we weren't happy with, but you've got to be careful what you say these days," he said.
"There was a couple of times when he looked as though he wasn't sure."
Higginbotham told The Sentinel: "It wasn't so much the free-kick itself, but more the fact he looked at it for a few seconds and it looked like a case of who's shouted the loudest."
Attwell was a late replacement for Martin Atkinson, who was moved to the Manchester derby after Steve Bennett found himself stranded on the continent due to the closure of British airspace.
The much-maligned official has come in for regular criticism throughout his career, with a number of high-profile errors having blighted his time at the top of his profession.