TROUBLE flared between Alvechurch and Hereford United fans in their top of the table clash on Thursday night at Lye Meadow, prompting a rapid response from Redditch police officers.
Violence broke out towards the end of what had been a tense but good spirited game after Alvechurch striker Jordan Nadat missed a crucial penalty that would have drawn them level 2-2 with the visitors.
An eyewitness said a shiver of fear ran through the family stand as fans spilled on to the pitch and a metal crowd barrier was swept up and lifted head height by supporters.
“The children were a bit scared and some families decided to go, but I wouldn’t say it ruined the game as the referee quickly regained control,” he said.
“The police came like the cavalry, they seemed to be there in seconds and it was all sorted in five minutes.
“Prior to that the atmosphere had been really good, it was tense but good natured and friendly.
“It’s just disappointing that a small minority ruined what was otherwise a great game for normal supporters.”
The table topping match had attracted a capacity 1,500 crowd and with only one team being promoted from the Midland Football League Premier, was a closely fought affair.
Hereford Utd took an early two goal lead before Alvechurch pulled one back making for a tense finale.
As the clock wound down Nadat appeared to be pulled down in the area – the referee initially waved play on but the linesman flagged for a penalty.
It was then that rumblings of discontent started among fans, however Nadat, having picked himself up, then missed the spot kick, sparking the trouble.
At the end of the game police and stewards let the Alvechurch fans out first before letting the larger number of Hereford fans leave, bringing their coaches as close as possible to allow them to quickly leave.
Club chairman Richard Thorndike, writing on twitter, said: “The police along with the stewards acted swiftly and professionally to bring an end to the situation and for this we are extremely grateful…..
“I can accept that there is a small club mentality which can precipitate angry attitudes to larger clubs when they ‘take over’ normally quiet terraces, BUT at the same time it’s for the larger clubs to accept that they are the common denominator with repeated incidents like this.”
He added that the club would also defend any claims of over capacity at Lye Meadows.
A police spokeperson said: “Towards the end of last night’s match, Alvechurch v Hereford United at Lye Meadow, a small disturbance broke out between both sets of supporters after Alvechurch missed a penalty.
“There were reports that both sets of supporters invaded the pitch and that missiles were thrown. With the support of a small local policing operation the stewarding team were quickly able to bring matters under control. There were no arrests made and no officers or supporters were injured.
“There was no intelligence prior to the game to suggest that there would be disturbance, albeit it was always going to be a tense fixture due to the successful season both clubs are having.
“As with all incidents of this type, we will review it and the procedures in place and provide feedback to the club. On the lead up to this fixture, Alvechurch worked tirelessly to ensure the ground was in the best shape possible for this fixture which was a sell out. They had communicated with the safety advisory group and were able to overcome a number of challenges and deliver a well managed fixture.”