‘There was nothing malicious’ – Hayling United’s home Hampshire Premier League game against Paulsgrove is abandoned
Hayling United’s home Hampshire Premier League game with Paulsgrove was abandoned with around 10 minutes left.
Referee Mike Paintin called an early halt as he was concerned for players’ safety following a series of heated incidents in the Senior Division fixture at Hayling College.
Both bosses - Hayling’s Dan Bishop and Steve Ledger of Grove - said they were surprised by the official’s decision with the score locked at 2-2.
But the pair said they understood the reasoning behind it, with the game now expected to be replayed.
There had been a second-half flashpoint following Danny Lane putting Grove into a 2-0 lead. That resulted in words being exchanged between spectators and players and Ledger having to go across to the opposite touchline to calm the situation down.
Later, another incident in a penalty area resulted in ‘handbags’ - after which the game was abandoned.
‘The referee was absolutely outstanding,’ said Ledger. ‘He was really, really good in the way he controlled everything.
‘I don’t think it should have been abandoned, but I understood his reasoning. There were a few niggly things going on and the ref said he didn’t want things spilling over. They were leaving a few late ones (tackles) on us and we were leaving a few on them.
‘With hindsight, Dan should have taken his players to one side, I should have taken mine to one side, we’d have five minutes, have a drink, calm down, diffuse the situation, and carry on to the finish.
‘There was a lot of passion and it was boiling over on both sides. It was just needle, handbags - there was nothing malicious, no punches were thrown. It was a tough, old-fashioned derby game.’
Regarding the incident following Lane’s goal, Ledger said: ‘Danny celebrated, there was a reaction in the crowd, things were said.
‘I’ve been in that situation myself, people are going to give you stick. I said to the players afterwards they have got to bite their tongue, walk away and do their talking with their feet.’
Bishop said: ‘I like the ref (Paintin) and for the most part he did ok. But I feel if he had got his cards out a bit sooner, the following events would not have happened.
‘I felt it was unnecessary (to call the game off), but the ref said he thought someone was going to get hurt, so who am I to argue?
‘It was a shame because as a football match it wasn’t bad. It was full blooded, lots of commitment from both sides.
‘There were some silly handbags being thrown around, but I was proud of my lads for the way they conducted themselves. They just stood up and laughed it off.
‘I would be incredibly surprised if any fingers are pointed at us (in the referee’s report).’
‘We have started to grow up a bit. We didn’t look intimidated, we didn’t look worried. We were disappointed the game was called off - we fancied ourselves to win it.’
Frankie Kemp and Lane had put Grove in command, but Hayling hit back through Ben Bishop and Brad Hayward.
Ledger said he would have taken a point, had the game been played to a conclusion, as his players ‘were dead on their feet.’
The previous Wednesday’s Portsmouth Senior Cup trip to Gosport Borough - where the hosts fielded a strong team and romped to an 11-1 victory - had taken its toll.
‘We were exhausted, our legs had gone,’ said Ledger. ‘We couldn’t get out of first gear.’
‘Chasing Gosport around for 90 minutes on a heavy pitch was not ideal preparation.’
The two teams meet again, this time in Paulsgrove, on October 30.