Mark Hughes felt Everton should have had Jordan Pickford sent off as Saints went down to a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park.

The Saints boss was frustrated by what he believes is a lack of consistency from match officials after they failed to punish Pickford’s challenge on Danny Ings which left the striker with a ripped shirt and stud marks on his back.

“He’s got five wields on his back,” said Hughes. “You saw the state of his shirt, it’s ripped off his back so clearly there is contact.

“The referee was there. The linesman has a lot of experience. Didn’t see it apparently when we went to talk to them.

“I haven’t been in, my assistant has. They said ‘it happened a bit quick.’ “We will look at it back and take a view on it. In my view I didn’t feel he needed to follow through like he did.

“It’s not sour grapes and I’m not trying to get the kid in trouble but it’s got to be consistent.”

Saints created several good chances against Everton but paid the price for some slack defending as they slipped to defeat.

“I think certainly in the first half even we find ourselves 2-0 down but in general play we created any number of good chances,” reflected Hughes.

“I thought Danny’s chance at the time he had just missed and hit the bar but in fairness their keeper has made an outstanding save to knock it on to the bar.

“At that point I thought we were in the ascendency and we switched off on a free kick and we see that movement time and time again and we should recognise it and deal with it and then we had opportunities to stop the ball at source and stop it being played into a good area, we didn’t and we are 2-0 down.

“Second half we got in the position where the positive from our point of view was Danny getting off on the scoring trail which will help him on a personal level.

“We needed to try and gain momentum and pressurise them at that point.

“I have to say the last 20-25 minutes was very stop-start, fragmented, and if I’m honest the Everton players allowed the referee to give free kicks, they went down very easily and stopped any momentum we were trying to build so it was difficult for us to get that pressure we were trying to build to get a second goal.

“Their keeper should have been sent off, clearly, for his challenge on Danny, he has cleared the ball but followed through so that’s a clear sending off. They had a man sent off for less last week. It’s that consistency we are talking about in terms of referees.

“I didn’t feel it was a high-quality game, I thought it was two teams who for the most part didn’t play to their potential but unfortunately we have come out on the wrong side of a 2-1 defeat.”