STEVE BRUCE claims referee Tim Robinson “was not ready” to preside over his first Premier League game, and has blamed the official for Newcastle United’s 1-0 defeat at Burnley.

Robinson infuriated Bruce as he failed to award Newcastle a free-kick when Chris Wood appeared to bundle over Federico Fernandez in the build-up to his winning goal.

The referee initially awarded Newcastle a goal-kick, only to change his mind and hand Burnley a corner. Ashley Westwood swung the ball into the middle, and Wood headed home from inside the six-yard box.

As well as feeling aggrieved at the manner of Burnley’s winner, Bruce also felt Robinson lost control of the general play, awarding a succession of free-kicks to both teams. The Sussex-based official also angered Bruce in August, when he failed to send off Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudhury for the foul that resulted in Matt Ritchie sustaining an injury that he still not recovered from.

Bruce said: “It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing to lose a game in the manner we did. We feel aggrieved that the referee has awarded them a corner, after initially giving a goal-kick when the ball wasn’t out.

“He’s then listened to somebody who’s probably 80 yards away, but it looked a foul and when I’ve seen it again, it’s a clear and blatant foul. Okay, we could have defended the corner better but we’re talking about a decision here that’s ultimately cost us the game.

“Since Tuesday, we knew the referee was making his debut. You’re hoping then the game doesn’t rest on a refereeing decision, but unfortunately that’s what we’re talking about. We feel aggrieved because we’re at the elite level and for me the referee looked short.

“I know it was his first game, and I never really want to sit here and criticise referees, but it would have been quite easy for him to have given the foul, which it was, and everything else would have been forgotten about. But he reacted too often to the crowd and gave a few strange decisions.

“We knew on Tuesday and you hope we’re not talking about a refereeing decision. But it wasn’t just the goal, it’s the other ones as well where unfortunately I just think there were far too many mistakes he made. And for me, he didn’t look ready to referee a Premier League game.”

Burnley boss Sean Dyche also criticised Robinson’s performance as he felt Andy Carroll should have been dismissed after catching Ben Mee with his elbow.

Carroll was booked for the incident, with a subsequent VAR review concluding there was no reason to award a red card, but Dyche disagreed. Bruce, however, defended Carroll’s actions.

Bruce said: “I didn’t think it was an elbow. There was a rugby tackle on Andy in the last two minutes. When two people are challenging for the ball, you’re going to have contact.

“There were challenges all over today. When you jump, it’s impossible to jump with your arms down by your side. Sometimes you catch people, that’s why I’ve got a face like I have, and you have to take it.

“It is what it is. When you’re playing against Burnley, or you’re playing against Andy Carroll, there are going to be big physical confrontations. I think that’s where the referee unfortunately got tied up in it, and a more experienced one would have let a bit more go. Every confrontation was a foul, and that’s not right.”

Newcastle failed to record a single effort on target all game, but Bruce thought they were about to level when Dwight Gayle met Joelinton’s late cross, only for the substitute to stab a shot wide of the target.

He said: “With the injury problems we had, we’re asking people to play a little bit out of position, but we’ve huffed and puffed all day and we’ve had two wonderful chances in Andy’s and the one that falls to Dwight.

“When he gets that, you’re thinking we’ve equalised, but unfortunately we haven’t taken it. But it was never going to be easy on a horrible day, it’s the worst conditions any footballer can play in. But the resilience was there. They never gave up and tried manfully to get something out of the game, but unfortunately we fell short.”