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article imageThug who punched Stevenage star on pitch urged to turn himself in

By Kev Hedges     Jan 10, 2011 in Sports
Stevenage - A hooligan, who ran onto the pitch after the final whistle of a British football match and punched a Stevenage defender knocking him unconscious, has been urged by police to hand himself in.
It was supposed to be a moment of celebration and unbridled joy. Stevenage FC, a League Two side, had just beaten Premier league giants Newcastle United 3-1 at the Lamex Stadium in the third-round of the FA Cup when hundreds of cheering, jubilant fans invaded the pitch after the full-time whistle to congratulate the players. However, one such "fan" ran up to a small group of celebrating fans who had surrounded Scott Laird close to the centre-circle and landed a punch to the side of the defender's head.
Laird was briefly out cold and then was helped to the dressing room by team mate Michael Bostwick. An appeal on the club's website has asked for anyone who witnessed the bizarre assault to come forward and contact police. Detective Inspector Gary Atkinson, from Stevenage Police, said: "We are appealing for the man responsible to make contact. We have a number of leads, but it is in the offender's best interests to come forward himself. Alternatively, if you know where this man is or are hiding him, please hand him over to us. If you are hiding him, this is a criminal offence and you will be dealt with accordingly. We are also keen to hear from further witnesses at the stadium on the night who saw the assault."
According to the local Comet newspaper, footage in the possession of the police is comprehensive and the assailant can be seen clearly and full on from the moment he enters the pitch. He had ran on from the east terrace, holding a red and white scarf, which are Stevenage's colours similar to the kind being sold outside the ground by local traders before the game.
Chairman, Phil Wallace has issued a statement on the club's website telling of his dismay of the incident.
Stevenage 3 Newcastle 1
Stevenage set a cup-shock to beat Newcastle with goals from Williamson (own goal), Michael Bostwick and Stuart Winn. Joey Barton scored a 92nd-minute consolation for Newcastle. Stevenage will now face Reading at home in the fourth-round on January 29.
Man Arrested
The BBC is reporting that a 24-year-old from Stevenage is being held on suspicion of assault.
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