Ben Garner: Swindon Town boss says players 'physically and verbally abused' after Port Vale defeat

Ben Garner and Swindon players are surrounded on the pitch at Vale Park
Swindon Town manager Ben Garner and his players were surrounded on the pitch following the penalty shootout defeat by Port Vale

Swindon Town manager Ben Garner said his players were "physically and verbally abused" after their League Two play-off semi-final defeat by Port Vale

The Robins were beaten 6-5 on penalties by Vale after the match ended 2-2 on aggregate after the two legs.

Vale fans swarmed on to the pitch after the last penalty and television footage appeared to show some in an altercation with Swindon players.

"There was physical abuse out there, there was verbal abuse," said Garner.

He told BBC Radio Wiltshire: "I'm very proud of the players for the strength they've just shown. There's a lad with a cut on his nose, there's been all sorts of abuse.

"I just don't understand it, I just don't know where this is coming from. I've seen it in some of the other games recently. Disgusting. It's disgusting."

In a statement on Friday, Swindon said they had reported events to the police.

"We are incredibly disappointed and upset to see our players, our staff and our fans put at risk by the actions of a small number of Port Vale fans who acted in an appalling way," the statement said.

"It is not acceptable that members of our playing and coaching staff's safety was put at risk.

"There is no place for behaviour like this in society, let alone on a football pitch, and it is incredibly worrying and saddening that there have been multiple examples of this inappropriate behaviour at matches this week."

Swindon forward Harry McKirdy called for the English Football League to take action in a post on his Instagram page.

He said: "I'll take the stick and the songs. But bottles, coins, lighters thrown at me and running on and hitting and kicking me and my team-mates. Too far. Something's got to be done EFL."

Vale co-owner Carol Shanahan added: "There is no place and no need for violence at football matches and the individuals involved are not welcome. As an industry we have to, and will, stand firm and together with the police to ensure we get on top of it as soon as possible."

Garner added that action needed to be taken by the football authorities, following a series of incidents.

A man was jailed on Thursday for headbutting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp at the end of the Blades' Championship play-off semi-final defeat by Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with a supporter during a pitch invasion following the club's dramatic Premier League defeat at Everton.

The Frenchman appeared to kick out at the fan before being ushered away by other supporters after Everton came back to win and retain their top-flight status.

"That is dangerous, that is so dangerous. Players have been hit, players have been kicked, players have been spat at, players have been verbally abused," Garner added.

"It's just not on. Fans think they can come on and they can have a free hit and a free pop and no one player can react to it. If you did that on the street you'd end up in a tear up.

"But I'm really proud of how they responded and the class that they have showed, as they have done all season."

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