Rutherford refutes ref ‘safety’ concerns

Jake Morgan, right, puts pressure on a Bitton player before ugly scenes forced the game to be abandoned
Jake Morgan, right, puts pressure on a Bitton player before ugly scenes forced the game to be abandoned
Mick Catlin. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford has dismissed claims their FA Vase game with Bitton was abandoned due to concerns over the referee’s ‘safety’.

That was the view of Bitton manager Paul Britton, who claimed the Dover Road side’s supporters were ‘threatening and abusive’ and gave the match official no alternative but to call the game to a halt before the final whistle.

Britton made the remarks in an interview with the Bath Chronicle.

The game was abandoned 10 minutes into extra-time after players from both sides were involved in a mass brawl.

The incident has been reported to both the Hampshire and Gloucestershire FAs, who have since passed on the relevant information to the Football Association (FA).

However, after being contacted by The News yesterday, no FA decision had been made over any potential punishment that may be handed out.

In the meantime, Moneyfields turn their attentions to Wessex League premier division matters, with Rutherford’s side entertaining Romsey at Dover Road tonight.

It will provide a welcome distraction until both sides learn their fate.

Nevertheless, Rutherford remains incensed by comments attributed to Britton regarding Saturday’s incident.

‘I am amazed by their manager’s comments,’ said Rutherford.

‘They are a joke. What he is saying is absolute nonsense and I don’t understand why the game was abandoned.

‘There was no ill-feeling between the clubs, their players and their supporters after the game.

‘The referee was never threatened or spoken to by any of our supporters or players.

‘I can only think Britton is trying to cover up that it was one of his players who head-butted one of ours.

‘We are not the guilty party in all this.’

Bitton boss Britton is quoted to have said: ‘There was a challenge and it did look quite a bad one from where we were.

‘When their player got up, he walked all over our player – you could still see the marks from his boots after.

‘It just reacted from there and, unfortunately, it turned into a mass brawl.

‘It was calmed down pretty quickly and the players were keen to get on with it.

‘But I think the referee abandoned the game because of his own safety.

‘The players all went into the bar after the game to have their food and there was no problem between the teams, but their supporters were very threatening and abusive.’

History suggests both sides could be thrown out of the competition, with both Huntington Town and Sleaford Town expelled from the FA Cup earlier this season following a similar incident.

If the teams are allowed to replay the game, the winners will face a home tie against Eastern Counties premier division leaders Hadleigh United.