PUBLISHED: 12:33 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 11 May 2010
ROYSTON S 2-0 win over Stony Stratford Town was far from pretty, but it was the ugly scenes just before and after Saturday s final whistle that grabbed the headlines. The game was interrupted after 88 minutes when Allan Reid s late tackle on Marc Redsull
ROYSTON'S 2-0 win over Stony Stratford Town was far from pretty, but it was the ugly scenes just before and after Saturday's final whistle that grabbed the headlines.
The game was interrupted after 88 minutes when Allan Reid's late tackle on Marc Redsull sparked a mass brawl involving both sets of players, and substitutes and coaches from both dugouts.
It looked a severe overreaction by Stony, who appeared to let their obvious frustrations and lack of discipline boil over in a game they never got to grips with.
From start to finish, the Royston players were watching their backs as Stony's rough-house tactics threatened to spoil this promotion clash.
It came to a head when the Stony players surrounded Royston captain Reid, intent on handing out their own punishment for what looked like an innocuous tackle, if a little late.
With bodies flying in, a number of the younger players did well to calm the situation.
When referee Peter Saggers finally managed to regain control, red cards were given to Reid for the original tackle and to Redsull for his involvement in the melee, although any number of players could well have gone too.
As the final whistle went, the hostilities spilled out on to the sidelines with some of the Stony players clashing with a few of the Royston supporters as they made their way to the changing rooms.
One fan was struck on the head by a traffic cone as tempers flared once more, and police were called just over an hour later when more words were exchanged in the clubhouse.
It was a sour note to an otherwise impressive result for The Crows, who had seen off one of their promotion rivals with a gritty and determined performance.
Manager Paul Attfield said: "All things considered I thought that my players did extremely well.
"We had expected it to be a physical game, but at times it bordered on the extreme.
"But I think we came out of it with a lot of credit. They came here to ruffle us up, and despite taking a lot of stick, the players didn't let it get to them.
"What happened at the end was a real shame, and while I do not condone Allan's tackle, the behaviour of their bench and players was totally unacceptable.
"I didn't see what happened when the Stony players left the pitch, because we were warming down.
"But from what I have heard there should be no place for that in football.
"To be fair to their manager he did apologise after the game, and they're probably going to have a few suspensions as a result, and that could cost them."
The game was certainly a good test for The Crows, who had to show a harder edge to their usual free-flowing and attacking game.
And despite Stony's negative tactics, Royston kept going, never shirked a tackle, and stood up when the going got tough.
"I think they grew up a lot out there, and I'm very proud of them," said Attfield.
"It was a win that was probably not as easy on the eye as some of our others, but it was never going to be about that on Saturday.
"It was about showing our mental strength and character, and I think we proved that we have that.
"In the past we haven't handled the physical battles as well as I would have liked, but I thought we did brilliantly - and thoroughly deserved the win."
Royston Town president Alan Barlow also praised the team's character and said that the club would be discussing the incidents at tonight's (Thursday) committee meeting.
He said: "I, like many of those at the game, felt that our young players stood up remarkably well to what was going on, and they never let it affect their performance.
"And we must not forget that it was another vital three points on Saturday.
"However, what happened at the end was unacceptable, and at the committee meeting we will be taking stock of what went on.
"I wouldn't like to comment at the moment, but it was all very unnecessary and a real shame.
"Stony Stratford overreacted on the pitch and then overreacted when they left it.
"There was a bit of banter going on with the crowd, which is part and parcel of the game, but they took it too far.
"I had gone before the trouble started in the clubhouse a bit later on, and all I know is that something went on between some of the Stony players and a few of our supporters.
"By the time the police arrived everything had died down.
"All in all it was a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable day, and it's a shame when things like this take the shine off an important win."
And despite what went on, it was, above all a vital victory for The Crows - who condemned one of their main promotion rivals to their first defeat in seven games, and edged themselves one step closer back to Premier Division football.