ANXIOUS Reading coach Veljko Paunovic feared for the safety of his players after they confronted fans on the pitch following their shock FA Cup defeat to Kidderminster.
Ecstatic Kiddy supporters swarmed Aggborough Stadium full-time to celebrate the National League North’s sixth-place side famous 2-1 giant killer act.
However, what started as a surge of emotional joy quickly turned sour after some home fans angered Reading fans who had taken to the pitch to confront them,
Clashes broke out and punches were thrown between opposing fans and at least one bottle was thrown from the away team’s end.
Reading’s players were unable to make their way through the crowd to safety in their dressing rooms and were stranded on the pitch, with Paunovic claiming some were verbally abused by the home fans.
Meanwhille members of his backroom staff were confronted by their OWN supporters, disgusted by their humiliating results.
Afterwards, Paunovic insisted his players were in danger and revealed: “We understand the excitement but I am very worried for their safety because it is so close and aggressive.
“The safety of all of us has been put in jeopardy and worse things could have happened.
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“It’s been challenging, it’s not safe and it’s not very fun to hear what people have to say to our players and the rest of our staff.
“We understand the world we live in, it happens. It’s just insults but it’s not nice because you don’t know when someone is going to cross the line and do something else.
“It was terrible and I thought the best thing was to run inside but I also thought I couldn’t leave my team out there so I quickly got the players inside and told them not to react.”
The Serbian boss claimed at least one of his players had been verbally abused by fans and said “Tom Dele-Bashiru has been insulted and attacked – just verbal insults.
“I said ‘don’t do anything’. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but I don’t think things should be like this.”
Paunovic defended his decision not to field his strongest squad, and prioritized Tuesday’s Championship game against Fulham.
“The priority is the championship,” he said.
“The FA Cup is a very lovely and exciting competition but we cannot risk all of our players – we have to prioritize Chanpionship.
Injuries affect our young players
“Today we lost Alen Halilovic and Felipe Araruna, who dislocated their knees.
“It didn’t look good and he was devastated. The moment we were leading 1-0 and a few minutes later we conceded the first goal – the injury affected our young players.”
Kidderminster’s heroes should not be overshadowed by the actions of a few heartless people and the club insist they have taken every possible precaution – including an appeal to fans in the media local media, match programming and over loudspeakers.
The FA will take all of that into account and the club could get away with the fine.
Manager Russ Penn wanted to focus on his heroic players and said: “I am very proud of them and the football club.
“We knew it was a one-time game, with a championship team and we exceeded expectations, when we got the equalizer it felt like there was only going to be one winner.
“We’ve got goals for this season and this is one of them.
“We wanted to be a League club and that was our common goal. But these are days that will never leave the memory of these players.”
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https://www.thesun.ie/sport/football/8177761/reading-fans-kidderminster-paunovic-fa-cup/ Reading fans clash with Kidderminster supporters and ‘take up Paunovic and defenders’ after FA Cup disappointment