20 May 2022

Swindon boss says his players were physically and verbally abused at Port Vale

20 May 2022

Furious Swindon boss Ben Garner claimed his players were physically and verbally abused in their Sky Bet League Two play-off defeat at Port Vale.

Garner accused the Vale fans for storming the pitch after the final whistle and attacking some of his players after they had won a penalty shoot-out to set up a final against Wembley.

Vale prevailed 6-5 on spot-kicks, after James Wilson had cancelled out Swindon’s 2-1 lead from the County Ground with an eighth-minute strike.

Garner revealed: “My players have been physically and verbally abused after the game, it’s absolutely disgusting.

“It’s disappointing what they’ve had to put up with coming off that pitch.”

“I’ve seen (it) in some of the other play-off games. I don’t know where we’re going to as a country, but it’s absolutely disgusting.

“To lose like that was really cruel. But the way they’ve conducted themselves, the effort they’ve put in, I’m so proud of all my players.

“For that game to be decided by a penalty is tough to take.

“I thought we had a penalty for handball and they go up the other end and score and, for me, their goal is offside.

“That goal has decided the game, which is a terrible, terrible shame.

“But I’m so proud of every single person in that dressing room, from where we started the season to where we’ve got too. To lose like that was very cruel.

“I don’t think we played well enough in the first half, we didn’t have enough intensity and didn’t move the ball well enough.

“We did it better in the second half, but on the balance of the game I thought a. draw would have probably been fair. There was not a lot in the game.

“But, as I say, it’s just disappointing for that group of players after everything they’ve given.”

Vale boss Darrell Clarke apologised after he was sent to the stands by referee Seb Stockbridge in the third minute of extra-time after an unsavoury touchline altercation with Swindon skipper Dion Conroy.

He tried to wrestle the ball away from Conroy and an ugly melee between both sets of players followed.

Clarke, who has been on compassionate leave this season after a close family bereavement, reflected: “I want to apologise, I shouldn’t have done what I did on the touchline. My emotions got the better of me.

“I apologise to Swindon and Dion. They’re a good club and he’s a good player.

“I don’t know what came over me. I’ve had an emotional time this season and that was the first time I’ve been sent-off.

“I do apologise for that, but as for being proud for my club, the owners, my players and my staff, they’ve given everything tonight and I thought we thoroughly deserve to go through.”

Keeper Aidan Stone pulled off a fine save as Vale recovered from 2-0 down in the shoot-out to triumph.

Ellis Iandolo’s missed penalty made sure Clarke’s side booked a showdown with Mansfield at Wembley on May 28, although the manager might have to serve a touchline ban for his rush of blood.

He added: “We came out of the traps really quickly, which was important.

“They(Swindon) are a possession-based team and Garner has got them playing some cracking football.

“But I thought we created the better chances and deserved to win the game.”

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