King’s Lynn braced for FA probe
King's Lynn could face FA action after crowd disorder marred the club's Vase semi-final weekend exit against Coalville.
Town lost 6-2 on aggregate to the Leicestershire side but the match was briefly halted in stoppage time when police and stewards had to intervene to ensure segregated rival fans were kept apart.
A plastic section of the Coalville dugout was also smashed in the aftermath of the visitors' 70th minute winning goal when members of the Ravens' management and playing staff clashed verbally with a minority of home fans stationed behind the away dugout.
Police made two arrests outside The Walks' ground following the game, but both incidents during Lynn's 3-2 second leg defeat are expected to be included in the match referee's report.
Town operations manager Jonathan Chapman confirmed FA officials present had already voiced concerns over the altercation between home fans and the Coalville backroom staff.
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'It's a lesson learnt for us to just block that area off,' he said. 'We've been told by the FA we have to block that off in the future and they intend to put that in writing. That has to be a supporter-free zone. We have never had that before - nothing as intimidating as that. But again, the moment that happened we put stewards there and stopped the incident escalating.'
Objects were also allegedly thrown at Coalville management and substitutes in the same flashpoint with Ravens' manager Adam Stevens clearly seen handing the fourth official a banana.
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'Whether it came from the crowd or not I don't know,' said Chapman. 'One of our support staff in our dugout said 100% the banana was brought in by the Coalville staff. I don't know if that will be included or not in any report from the FA. What I do know is we took the right advice from all the relevant parties to prepare for this game as we have done in previous matches.
'We prepared for the match correctly. Unfortunately a minority have chosen to get involved but there were no injuries or anything of that nature. As regards the incident at the end of the game the moment a number of people scaled the low wall around the pitch the police had to come into the ground for everyone's safety. It is a shame but it was contained in one corner of the ground with a small minority. I would thank the genuine supporters for standing back and not getting involved.'
Coalville vice-chairman Mick Jordan helped diffuse the incident surrounding the away technical area along with Chapman following Matt Gardener's late winner.
'There were a few unfortunate things that happened during the course of the game,' he said. 'From my point of view it was a heated situation and sometimes things happen, but we wouldn't wish to take it any further. We know ourselves from the first leg how difficult it is to cater for that amount of people. There are so many boxes that have to be ticked off the pitch to put on a match of this scale and as far as I am concerned King's Lynn ticked them. King's Lynn treated us superbly.'
Ravens' chairman Glyn Rennocks insisted the off-the-field incidents would not detract from his club's Wembley success.
'From the directors' box I couldn't honestly tell what was happening but there were certain incidents that I am not happy with from my own point of view,' he said. 'If you look at the stadium they have here compared to ours this is quite easy to police and control. Its unacceptable that they had supporters stood around the away dugout throwing objects at our players and that a supporter was able to smash the top of the dugout.
'I don't want that to get in the way of what a magnificent achievement it is. It's not right and it's not acceptable and I just think it could have been handled better. It certainly hasn't soured the win. I'm sure King's Lynn would agree over the two legs we were the better side and thoroughly deserved the victory.'