Referee Craig Hicks was forced to run towards the tunnel after a pitch-invading supporter made a shocking beeline towards him during Portsmouth’s victory over Port Vale. Home side Vale have condemned the actions of the individual, saying they will cooperate with the authorities.
Colby Bishop’s 88th-minute penalty secured a narrow 1-0 victory for promotion-chasing Portsmouth. Vale believed they should have been awarded a free-kick in the build-up to the south coast side’s spot-kick. After Bishop scored from 12 yards, a fan ran onto the pitch and sprinted towards Hicks.
The referee spotted the pitch invader and jolted town the tunnel where security was waiting to protect him. A coach situated on the sideline helped security personnel remove the intruder.
Port Vale condemned the individual and reminded fans that entering the field of play is a criminal offence.
A statement issued by the club said: Port Vale Football Club condemn the actions of the individual who entered the field of play during today’s match against Portsmouth.
“We will work with the relevant authorities to ensure the matter and the individual is dealt with a zero tolerance approach. We remind all supporters that entering the field of play is a criminal offence.”
The incident comes at a time when fears are growing over offences towards match officials in the UK. Football Association data showed that allegations of serious offences towards officials increased in 2022-23 compared with the previous season.
Portsmouth held onto their victory to stay top of League One. Vale are 20th in the table, three points above the relegation zone. They have two games in hand over 21st-placed Reading.
Vale manager Andy Crosby conceded that the award of the late penalty was ‘frustrating’.
He said: “It would be naive of me to say the team who had control of the game [wasn’t] Portsmouth. They’re top of the table and they had us penned in for long periods. We had to keep changing our shape to hang in there and we did.
We knew we’d have to have long spells without the ball and we’d have to stick together which we did, but the manner of the deciding goal is very frustrating.”