CHESTER City’s League Two derby against Stockport County was abandoned amid chaotic scenes at the Deva Stadium this afternoon.
Referee Ian Williamson’s decision to halt proceedings just before the hour mark due to a waterlogged pitch was met with a mixture of anger and disappointment from both managers and the fans. The score was 0-0 at the time and the visiting supporters made their feelings clear by chanting “we want our money back” as the teams left the field.
There had earlier been overcrowding problems in the stadium as almost 2,000 Stockport fans poured through the turnstiles, swelling the overall attendance to 3,783.
Shortly after the 3pm kick-off, it became clear that too many County fans had been allowed into the Liversage Stand, handing club stewards and police a major headache.
The APC Overnight Stand was also full of Stockport supporters, so it was decided to move those without seats in the Liversage Stand to a corner of the Vaughan Stand, which is where the majority of Chester’s fans were accommodated.
After being marched around the pitch by stewards while play continued, hundreds of away fans were kept waiting near the corner flag for several tense minutes before being ushered to their seats.
Although there were no major flash-points between the rival sets of supporters, there could be repercussions for the Blues as the Football League may want to investigate why such a potentially dangerous situation was allowed to occur.
The result of today’s game will not stand so both teams will have to meet again before the end of the season.
Heavy rain in the hour leading up to kick-off had left parts of the pitch under pools of water, leading to some farcical football in the first half as both sets of players struggled with the slippery conditions.
Referee Williamson and his fellow match officials carried out an inspection of the pitch at half time and decided to play on as the weather looked to be improving – but the Berkshire official surprised everyone by abandoning the game 14 minutes into the second period at a time when the playing surface appeared to be in a better condition than it had been in the first half.
Blues manager Simon Davies later admitted he was “baffled” by the timing of Mr Williamson’s decision, adding: “If he’s going to call it off, you’d think he’d do it at half time.”
Stockport boss Jim Gannon was also critical of the referee, saying “All the professionals were game enough to carry on, but the amateur wasn’t.”
Referring to the overcrowding problems in the first half, Gannon added: “Some of the scenes around today were absolutely embarrassing.”
Williamson refused to comment on his decision, but several hundred fans gathered outside the ground at the end of the game to demand refunds.
No new date has yet been set for the fixture.
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