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Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 11:48 UK

York City's play-off win over Luton marred by violence


York players shielded from pitch invasion

York City's 1-0 Blue Square Premier play-off semi-final victory at Luton was marred by on-pitch violence.

Visiting players were forced to cower in the stands as they were showered with missiles after a pitch invasion.

Striker Richard Brodie said he was hit by a coin after the 2-0 aggregate win, and players had to be led to safety.

The Football Association says it will investigate the disorder, along with trouble at Sheffield Wednesday's match against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

"We will be contacting Luton Town following scenes during their fixture with York City," said an FA spokesman.

Hatters chairman Nick Owen told BBC Radio 5 live the behaviour of some fans had been "appalling".

Police said they made seven arrests outside the Luton ground, after officers were attacked by fans wielding brooms and mops taken from a local DIY store.

The way that the Luton supporters went after our players was quite animalistic

York chairman Jason McGill

The defeat condemned Luton to another season of non-league football.

Broadcaster Owen, part of a consortium that took control of Luton in 2008, apologised to York for the violence.

"I can't really believe it and can't condone it," he said.

"At a lot of grounds, fans run on to the pitch at the end of the season, which is not ideal in itself but it happens. Most of the people running on were just running on.

"A crazy few took it further and turned it into aggression and I deeply regret that and apologise to York as I have done in the boardroom and do now to all the fans and, of course, the players."

The victory, before a capacity Bank Holiday crowd of 9,787 at Kenilworth Road, means York will now meet Oxford United at Wembley on 16 May in the play-off final for a place in the Football League.

York chairman Jason McGill stated: "I hope our players are OK and the supporters get home safely because it is a very intimidating atmosphere here.

"We need to see what the police report is and the referee's report is but I don't think I've experienced anything like it in my time at York City and I don't think since watching football.

"The way that the Luton supporters went after our players was quite animalistic and I think it was very, very dangerous."

BBC Radio York understands the Football Association will review video evidence on Tuesday before commenting on the scenes.

No further comment will be made by the Football Conference until it receives a report of the investigation findings from the FA.

"It's a game of football. It's not life or death," said York striker Brodie.

"It was very frightening at times. You get coins, bottles, anything possible thrown at you. There were 20 pences, 50 pences. One has hit me on the side of the head and one hit Chris Carruthers too."

A strike by Carruthers had earlier sealed the win against the Hatters, who had Adam Newton sent off in the 90th minute.

While York manager Martin Foyle was naturally delighted at his side's victory, he reserved praise for the way in which the post-match incident was handled.

"I was worried about my players' safety but fair play to the stewards, who did a job and got them out through the police room," he said.

"It was quite scary. I haven't seen that for a long time in football."

Luton, who were relegated from the Football League last season, finished second to promoted Stevenage in the Conference, 10 points ahead of fifth-placed York.

"I would like to say well done to York City. They have beaten us 1-0 in each game, and I wish them all the best at Wembley," added Owen.

"We are bitterly disappointed because we played well in both games and can't quite believe that we haven't won them but that's not the point today, I'm afraid."

Owen said the club had employed extra security.

"Our fans as a whole were absolutely fantastic. We have a wonderful mass of fans who follow us all over the country - we had 3,000 for our last away game, which is superb when you think this is the Conference," commented Owen.

"We were convinced we had the right number of stewards and had extra because of today being such an important day - but it wasn't enough.

"The main job, of course, is to stop fans getting at each other, and that was achieved, but the ugly scenes happened.

"It's very, very difficult to know what you can do more than go back to the terrible time when you had fencing and stuff like that, which led to some awful things as well.

York chairman feared 'for player safety' at Luton

"We feel we had adequate policing and adequate stewarding. It got out of hand and we are very sorry about that."

Sheffield Wednesday's relegation decider against Crystal Palace was also marred by a pitch invasion on Sunday.

FA crowd control advisors were at both fixtures and they have submitted reports on the trouble.

A spokesman said: "The FA does not condone disorder either outside or inside football stadia and thankfully such problems remain infrequent in the modern game.

"However, any individuals identified as having taken part in any form of disorder should be dealt with appropriately by the authorities and issued with football banning orders as they simply have no place in our game."

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see also
CCTV examined for match violence
04 May 10 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Luton 0-1 York City (agg 0-2)
03 May 10 |  Non League
York City 1-0 Luton Town
29 Apr 10 |  Non League
FA to probe Hillsborough trouble
04 May 10 |  Sheff Wed

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