Fight erupts at non-league friendly as players forced to get involved
Blackpool's pre-season got under way in dramatic style on Saturday as an ugly fight broke out during their friendly against seaside neighbours Southport.
Goals from CJ Hamilton and Beryly Lubala saw the Championship side take a two-goal lead with just 23 minutes on the clock. However, Michael Appleton's managerial debut with the Tangerines then took a sour turn just after the half-hour mark.
After a section of Southport's home support appeared to make their way towards Blackpool's travelling faithful, a fracas broke out. Players from both sides were then forced to intervene as chaotic scenes clouded the contest at Haig Avenue.
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Video footage which surfaced online appeared to show a handful of Southport fans making their way around the edge of the pitch and towards the away end on 33 minutes. The group then sought to antagonise the Blackpool fanbase.
A select group of the Seasiders' support reacted, charging towards the metal railing which divided the two sets of fans before launching liquids and throwing the barrier aside. With that, the sample of Southport fans swiftly retreated to the safety of the home end.
Amid the carnage, players from both sides could be seen going over to the advertising hoardings in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Several team-mates from both Southport and Blackpool aided the efforts to cool the tensions while security guards also sought to restore order.
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Following the unsavoury disturbance, Blackpool Chief Executive Ben Mansford was spotted heading over to the area where the trouble took place, before both sets of players were taken off for 10 minutes. Spectators were subsequently warned that if any further incidents occurred, the friendly would have to be abandoned.
Despite Blackpool going on to claim a 2-0 win over their National League North opponents, the manner of the victory was hardly the ideal start to Appleton's tenure. The 46-year-old was appointed to the Tangerines' helm shortly after head coach Neil Critchley surprisingly departed to become Steven Gerrard's assistant at Aston Villa earlier in the summer.
Critchley's last act as Blackpool manager was overseeing the Seasiders' 5-0 defeat at Peterborough on the final day of the Championship season. Appleton's side will play four further friendlies before kicking off the new league campaign against Reading at Bloomfield Road on July 30
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