FA promises
a ‘thorough’ probe into Villa crowd trouble

The Football Association has confirmed it will launch a “thorough” investigation into the crowd problems that marred Aston Villa’s FA Cup quarter-final win over local rivals West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park.

Hundreds of Aston Villa fans invaded the pitch after their FA Cup sixthround win. Picture: PA
Hundreds of Aston Villa fans invaded the pitch after their FA Cup sixthround win. Picture: PA

Albion supporters threw seats and there were two pitch invasions before fans ran on to the playing surface again at the final whistle.

Villa eventually won the match 2-0 to book their place in the semi-finals of the competition.

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Police have made 17 arrests related to the game and a spokesperson for the FA said the investigation into the incidents will begin today.

“There is no progress on last night 
except the FA knows about it and intends to look into it thoroughly,” the spokesperson said.

The police have also launched their own probe into a pre-match disturbance at the Witton Arms, close to Villa Park, while Villa have already apologised for the problems at the stadium.

“The club does not condone supporters invading the field of play under any circumstances,’’ a Villa statement read.

“We are very disappointed that what should have been a very memorable and proud moment for our fans was marred by the actions of those who could not control themselves.

“They have let both themselves and their club down.

“The club extends its sincere apologies to the Football Association, the West Bromwich Albion directors, 
manager Tony Pulis and all his staff and players.’’

Albion boss Pulis criticised the stewarding at Villa Park and felt the players’ safety was in jeopardy but confirmed his squad were fine.

He said: “It puts the players in danger and we don’t want to see that. We were seeing it in the 1970s and 80s and we don’t want to get back to that.

“I actually think Villa should look at the stewarding.’’

Fabian Delph, who described the pitch invasion as “scary’’, scored his first goal in a year before former West Brom loanee Scott Sinclair added a second 
late on.

Claudio Yacob and Jack Grealish were also sent off after collecting two 
bookings each as both sides finished with ten men.

West Brom, meanwhile, have vowed to take strong action against any of the club’s fans found to have been involved in disturbances.

Albion announced in a statement yesterday that the apology from Villa had been “received in the spirit with which it was intended”.

“West Bromwich Albion note the public apology issued by Aston Villa FC in the wake of the disturbing scenes during and after the FA Cup quarter-final at Villa Park,” read the statement.

“The apology is received in the spirit with which it was intended.

“The club is also aware of reports of serious misbehaviour involving some of its own supporters.

“It issues an uncompromising reminder today that any supporter found guilty of disorder offences can expect the appropriate sanction from the club. West Bromwich Albion will continue to operate zero tolerance to any fans who bring the club’s reputation into disrepute.

“The club also welcomes the FA 
investigation into the scenes and how they came about; West Bromwich 
Albion will co-operate fully. Pitch invasions cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. The safety of the club’s players and staff during and at the end of the game was clearly compromised and that has to be a subject of deep concern for everyone involved.”

Villa became the first side to bank a last-four spot in the cup and the victory completed a dream double over the Baggies after Villa’s 2-1 Barclays Premier League win on Tuesday, which lifted them out of the relegation zone.

After a poor first half which failed to live up to the pre-match hype, Villa took the lead on 51 minutes.

The previously quiet Charles N’Zogbia skipped inside and found the unmarked Delph who was gifted too much time to rifle past Boaz Myhill from 16 yards. It was the midfielder’s first goal since he scored in Villa’s 1-0 win over Chelsea last season.

It was also Villa’s first clear chance of the tie, but Albion rallied and should have levelled six minutes later only 
for Joleon Lescott to plant a five-yard header wide.

The goal had given the hosts renewed confidence, though, and Myhill had to rush out and block from Sinclair with 21 minutes left. Ninety seconds later, the winger almost finished the game when he skipped down the left and dragged a shot wide.

Albion were on the ropes and Ashley Westwood’s drive deflected wide before Craig Gardner deflected the ball onto his own bar with 14 minutes left. It then got worse for the Baggies when 
Argentine Yacob was sent off for his second yellow card.

There seemed little wrong when Bacuna went to tackle the midfielder, who remained on his feet, only for referee Anthony Taylor to issued a second booking for the Albion man. It left the Baggies fuming and Villa wrapped the game up with five minutes remaining when Grealish broke, found Sinclair and the Manchester City loanee cut inside Brunt and curled a shot into the corner.

Seats were then thrown from the 
Albion end into the Villa fans.

Grealish was dismissed for a dive in injury time and thegame was also delayed after a pitch invasion from the home supporters before the final 
whistle.