ANXIOUS Reading boss Veljko Paunovic feared for the safety of his players after being confronted by fans on the pitch following their shock FA Cup defeat at Kidderminster.
Ecstatic Kiddy supporters swarmed the Aggborough ground full time to celebrate the famous 2-1 kill from the sixth tier National League North side.
However, what started as a joyful outpouring of emotions quickly turned sour after some home fans pushed Reading supporters, who came onto the pitch to confront them,
Scuffles broke out and punches were thrown between rival supporters and at least one bottle was thrown at the visitors’ side.
The Reading players were unable to make their way through the crowd to the safety of their dressing room and were left stranded on the pitch, with Paunovic claiming some had been verbally abused by home fans.
Meanwhile, members of his backroom team faced their own supporters, disgusted by their humiliating result.
Afterwards, Paunovic claimed his players had been put at risk and revealed: “We understand the excitement but I was very worried for their safety as it was too close and aggressive.
“All of our safety was put at risk and even worse things could have happened.
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“It was difficult, it wasn’t safe and it wasn’t very nice to hear what people were saying 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 step over the line and do something else.
“It was bad and I thought the best thing to do was run inside, but I also thought I couldn’t leave my team there, so I quickly went and got the players inside. inside and tell them not to answer.”
The Serbian boss claims that at least one of his players was verbally abused by fans and said: “Tom Dele-Bashiru was insulted and attacked – just verbal insults.
“I said ‘don’t do anything’. I don’t want to make a fuss about it but I don’t think it’s like that.”
Paunovic has defended his decision not to field his strongest team and to prioritize Tuesday’s league game with Fulham.
“The priority is the championship,” he said.
“The FA Cup is a very beautiful and interesting competition but we cannot risk all our players – we have to prioritize the Championship.
The injury has had an impact on our young players
“We lost Alen Halilovic today and Felipe Araruna who has a dislocated knee capsule.
“It doesn’t look good and he’s devastated. At the time we were leading 1-0 and a few minutes later we conceded the first goal – the injury took its toll on our young players.”
Kidderminster’s heroism should not be overshadowed by the actions of a few foolish cretins and the club insist they have taken every precaution possible, including appeals to fans in local media, the match program and the speakers.
The FA will take all of this into account and the club could escape sanctions.
Manager Russ Penn wanted to focus on his heroic players and said: “I’m so proud of them and the football club.
“We know it’s a unique game, against a Championship side and we exceeded expectations, when we equalized it felt like there would only be one winner.
“We had our goals for this season and this was one of them.
“We want to be a League club and that’s our overall goal. But these are days that will never leave the memories of these players.”
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