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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sean Dyche 'feared for Burnley players' after Blackburn fans stormed pitch in Carabao Cup tie

Ashley Westwood of Burnley takes a Blackburn fan down during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park
Ashley Westwood of Burnley takes a Blackburn fan down during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park
A steward takes down a fan after he runs on the pitch during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park on August 23, 2017 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Charlie Mulgrew of Blackburn grabs a Blackburn fan after he runs on the pitch during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park on August 23, 2017 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Ashley Westwood of Burnley takes a Blackburn fan down during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park on August 23, 2017 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Ian Whittell

Sean Dyche admitted he feared for his players’ safety at Ewood Park last night when two Blackburn supporters confronted them as they celebrated the opening goal of their Carabao Cup tie.

The Burnley manager was about to run on the field himself to try and protect his personnel after stewards failed to prevent the two running onto the field.  One supporter pushed Burnley captain James Tarkowski in the chest and then appeared to grab Ashley Westwood by the throat before the melee broke up and both fans attempted to leave the field.

“There used to be a time, when I was playing, that if people got onto a football pitch it was a bit of a joke, a little bit silly,” said Dyche.  “But there are now different things going on in the world, when people get onto a football pitch they need to be stopped.

“The challenge is for the stewards - who do a terrific job all over the country - to deal with it quickly.  “It got to the point where we were going to go onto the pitch - not to do anything ridiculous but to say, we can’t have that.

“When someone saunters on that slowly, it has to be dealt with because you just never know. The safety of players is paramount because times have changed.  Everyone’s lives are changing and there seems to be more anger, more animosity about these games and it has to be controlled.”

As the two supporters tried to leave the field they were finally apprehended by stewards - and later arrested - and the FA will study referee Simon Hooper’s report today before deciding whether to take action against the League One club.

Burnley may also feature in that report, with supporters letting off flares in their end of the ground and, by half-time last night, police confirmed they had made four arrests - one Burnley supporter for letting off a flare, the two pitch invaders and a third Blackburn fan for throwing a shoe onto the field after the second goal.

Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray claimed not to have seen the incident involving his club’s supporters and did not seem too anxious to become involved in a discussion about the topic.

“You’re asking the wrong person,” he said. “Go and ask the security people at the football club. I manage the football team on the grass.

“They had just scored and he (Dyche) was probably still stood their rubbing his hands and celebrating and saw it all happen. I had turned around and gone to sit on the bench. I didn’t even know it happened.

“I didn’t see a fan running on the pitch. I didn’t know what he did. That’s not an ‘Arsene Wenger’ comment. I just didn’t see it. Of course it’s wrong. I’m sure the authorities will deal with them as severely as they need to.”

The second goal that prompted the supporter to throw a shoe onto the pitch was scored by Robbie Brady on the stroke of half-time, a superb finish from a tight angle after he had brushed aside two defenders, and effectively wrapped up the tie.

The opening goal, which had sparked the flashpoint, involved Brady whose excellent right-wing cross was met by Jack Cork for an unstoppable near-post header.

Chris Wood, the New Zealand striker who joined Burnley for a club record £16 million on Monday, came on as a substitute for the injured Jonathan Walters late in the first half and the impressive home keeper David Raya denied him with two excellent stops.

Burnley will play Leeds in the third round.

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