Hibernian have moved to condemn the violence which marred Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest in Portugal.
Hibernian 1-2 Nottingham Forest
Scorers: Hibernian - Tudur Jones (68); Nottingham Forest - Blackstock (26pen), Miller (70)
The encounter descended into chaos after 35 minutes when both sets of fans – following repeated incidences of sectarian and nationalist chanting – clashed in the main stand. The makeshift metal barriers which separated the fans were used as missiles, while riot police waded into the melee wielding batons, striking several Hibs and Forest fans. Some supporters were left bloodied, but no-one was seriously hurt.
The Forest fans, who outnumbered the Scots by around four to one, were then penned into a small section of the stand by riot cops, a substantial distance away from the Hibees who had travelled to the Algarve.
A statement from the Capital club, released in the early hours of yesterday morning, said: “The club was saddened to note that an altercation took place at the Estadio Municipal VRSA during the first half. The incident was quickly dealt with by the authorities and the rest of the match passed without incident. Hibernian Football Club cannot condone any form of anti-social behaviour or intolerance between rival groups.”
On the pitch, a goal from Owain Tudur Jones – his first for the club since joining from Inverness – was not enough to stop the Edinburgh outfit from slipping to a 2-1 defeat, with Dexter Blackstock and Ishmael Miller netting for Billy Davies’ men.
In the 30-degree heat Hibs captain James McPake was drafted into the starting line-up after being rested for Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Gibraltar.
However, Kevin Thomson, whom the Edinburgh club are keen to re-sign, was rested. Forest took the lead after 26 minutes, with Blackstock firing a superb penalty into the roof of the net after Lewis Stevenson clipped his heels.
The second half was played out in a rather eerie atmosphere, given the violent scenes before the break. However, there were moments to rouse each set of fans. Firstly, Tudur Jones netted for Hibs, calmly slotting home after an incisive Danny Handling pass.
But the joy was fleeting as the Championship outfit immediately regained the lead. Striker Miller had too much pace for the Hibs back-line and, when played through one-on-one with Ben Williams, managed to bundle the ball into the net to clinch victory.