Tadcaster Albion’s Wembley aspirations ended in ugly circumstances following a 1-0 defeat to Swindon-based side Highworth Town.
Players, supporters and directors of both clubs were involved in a mass brawl after the final whistle of the FA Vase quarter-final replay.
Kicks and punches were thrown as tempers boiled over when the players were leaving the field, and Highworth’s supporters invaded the pitch to celebrate reaching the semi-finals.
Highworth’s chairman Rohan Haines suffered a bloody nose after being punched in the melee.
Albion manager Paul Marshall condemned the actions and said an inquiry would take place immediately.
Callum Parsons had settled the contest midway through the second half with an exquisite strike from outside the box.
However Albion were left ruing Calum Ward’s penalty miss on the stroke of half-time.
It had all started so well for Tadcaster. A record crowd of more than 1,300 had answered the club’s rallying cry and businesses turned the town yellow and blue ahead of the contest.
Albion made two changes from the original 1-1 draw last week, with Paddy Miller returning from suspension at left-back and Danny Stimpson replacing the injured Denny Ingram.
Stimpson, short of match practice with chances few and far between at the Brewers so far, looked rusty in the opening stages and Highworth dangerman TJ Bohane stole behind him before flashing a shot-cum-cross across the face of goal.
The cagey opening 20 minutes shot to life when Parsons timed a run perfectly beyond the Albion back four, but failed to round Taddy keeper Tom Morgan. From the striker’s following cross, Bohane headed embarrassingly wide.
Ward had an instinctive shot saved on 26 minutes before strike partner Carl Stewart had his low strike kicked away by Highworth goalie Garry Stevens.
Albion continued to grow into the clash, and Stewart should have done better from the energetic Josh Barrett’s pass when free at the near post.
Then came the turning point of the clash. Last week’s original tie had been a tale of two successful penalties, and on the stroke of half-time, a third would arrive.
A long ball forward caused Highworth right-back Jonathan Aitkenhead concern and the right-back tripped Ward after the striker pickpocketed him.
Like in Highworth, Ward drilled his spot-kick to the left but this time Stevens blocked it over the bar with his legs.
The penalty miss could have demoralised the home outfit into the second period, but Paul Marshall’s men came out with gusto.
However, the breakthrough remained allusive with Sam Wadieh producing an exemplorary display at the heart of the Highworth defence.
When Tad did break through, chances were difficult. Andy Milne headed a Josh Greening free-kick wide from the byline before Greening himself had three bites at a shot but was eventually crowded out.
Ryan King then forced Lawrie into a fine low save from a 25-yard free-kick, with the young keeper diving full length to tip it around the post.
At the other end Stevens had an imperious game all afternoon, especially when punching set pieces clear, but his shot-stopping was also on point with a smart stop to prevent Greening sneaking a shot into his near post.
From the following corner, Aitkenhead lashed the ball high and clear and as last man Nick Thompson, Albion’s captain, stumbled Parsons gathered the ball 30 yards from Lawrie’s goal.
Taddy’s management protested a foul but nothing would prevent Parsons from taking the game by the scruff of its neck. He held the ball up well before sweeping home a quality strike into the top corner, leaving Lawrie unmoved.
Albion huffed and puffed in the search of a desperate equaliser to enforce extra-time for the second week running.
But their only opportunity came in five minutes of injury time when Carl Stewart ran onto the ball inside the area, only to have his effort blocked.
The final whistle soon sounded, and it left Albion exasperated, and Highworth delirious.
That was until a band of supporters invaded the pitch to join the visting celebrations.
One away supporter was then rugby tackled the ground after goading the home support, and Albion striker Stewart.
Punches and kicks were thrown in the fiery outburst that followed and both side’s players had to be separated to opposite ends of the field.
Albion boss Marshall said: “I’m disappointed to lose the game but I’m even more upset with what happened after the game.
“As I got there, there was a young fan goading all our fans and then one of our fans went on an rugby tackled him for some unknown reason.
“It all then seemed to kick off. People were trying to hold others back and then there was a few punches thrown, which was very unsavoury and not what we want to see at non league football.
“I feel absolutely sick about it what’s happened. There needs to be a full inquiry into it.”
Highworth secretary Fraser Haynes downplayed the incident and said “tomorrow it would all be forgotten”.
He said: “Both sets of supporters went on the pitch.
“Their captain has apologised to me because one of their players has punched our chairman in the face.
“It’s just a bit of excitement. That one minute of excitement and it’s just a bit of handbags.
“I didn’t think it was that bad.”