Spurs Smoke Bomb Hits Linesman

The Football Association has opened an investigation after a flare was thrown and struck assistant referee David Bryan after Tottenham Hotspur ’s first goal at Villa Park on Sunday.

Spurs and Aston Villa will be contacted by the FA on Monday to offer their explanation of the “unacceptable” incident, while referee Phil Dowd is understood to have included details in his official match report.

The flare was hurled from the corner of the Doug Ellis Stand where the Spurs supporters were sat and hit Bryan on the neck. West Midlands Police later confirmed that two men aged 25 and 47 had been arrested.

Bryan was able to continue without treatment and Tottenham defender Michael Dawson even admitted that later the linesman had been “laughing and joking” about the incident, which happened seconds after Andros Townsend scored in the 31st minute.

However, the FA is taking the matter seriously and will begin its investigation onm Monday, in what appears to be a growing trend in the stands of English football.

Last month the FA took action after an outbreak of flare throwing in Manchester United and Liverpool’s Capital One Cup tie at Old Trafford.

An FA statement read: “The FA will investigate this matter, which is unacceptable. We will await the match officials’ report and will be speaking to the clubs. Such incidents highlight the dangers of pyrotechnics being used in a football stadium.”

Spurs and Villa have pledged to assist the FA with the inquiry and both supporters could face life bans. The Premier League last month issued a stark warning about the possible dangers of life-changing injuries if supporters are hit by the “2,000 degree” missiles.

In May, a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from a smoke bomb thrown during Villa’s game at Wigan Athletic while in February a supporter was killed by a flare thrown during a South American Libertadores Cup match in Oruro, Bolivia.

Andre Villas-Boas, the Spurs head coach, said: “It’s not great to see and it should be avoided completely. It touched the linesman from what I could see and situations like this do not have a place in football. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t happen again.”

The FA, Premier League and Football League are also working closely with the Fire Service and St John Ambulance in an effort to alert supporters to the potential dangers.

Meanwhile, Paul Lambert insisted that Christian Benteke was not fit to start for Villa, after the Belgium international made his first appearance in a month. Benteke had not played since injuring his hip at Norwich City and only trained four days this month and was named on the bench by Lambert, with £7 million signing Libor Kozak starting against Spurs.

However, Villa supporters were chanting Benteke’s name well before his introduction just after the hour and the 22-year-old lifted Lambert’s team, missing a decent chance shortly before Spurs increased their lead.

“It’s unfair on him to expect him to go right in from the beginning,” Lambert said. “He has only trained a couple of days with us and the same with Belgium. It was not enough to throw him into that magnitude of game, plus I am happy with Libor. It was never an option. But he got half an hour and it will do him the world of good. There was no temptation from me to start him.”

Villa’s defeat was their first in four league games but they have now failed to beat Spurs in their last six games at home.

Lambert said: “I didn’t think there was much in it. The last couple of times Spurs have come here and left with a pretty convincing result, but today it was a different game.

“Sometimes you come away from a game knowing you haven’t given it a go but I can’t fault the lads for the way they went about it.”

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