A MAN has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a Burnley player during tonight’s East Lancashire derby.

Two men invaded the pitch from the RFS Riverside Stand after Jack Cork had given the Clarets a 1-0 lead against Blackburn Rovers.

One of the men ran towards Burnley midfielder Ashley Westwood and appeared to put his hands around his throat. Cork’s team-mates then restrained the pitch invader until stewards arrived to escort him away. He was arrested on suspicion of assault.

A second man was seen talking to Rovers captain Charlie Mulgrew and he was arrested on suspicion of invading the pitch.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has condemned the action of the pitch invaders.

He said: "I think we’re all concerned with the bigger picture. There used to be a time when people got on a football pitch kind of in jest.

"It was something silly, and could almost be laughed at.

"Now there's all kinds of different things going on in the world and on a football pitch it has to be stopped very quickly - that's not just this football club, I have to make that absolutely clear, that's across then board, any sporting situation.

"It's a shame that happened tonight. No-one wants that to happen. The stewards do a terrific job all around the country, but they've got to get on quick.

"The situation has changed. Years and years ago people came on almost for fun, almost part of the game and we all used to laugh.

"You don't know what they're doing now. So people have to get to that situation really quickly and it seemed a really long time before anyone did anything, and our players had to eventually defend themselves and that can't be right anywhere in football.

"It's not about tonight, it's the bigger picture and other sports, it can't be right."

He continued: "I think it has to be looked at across the board, and is doing, stewards do a terrific job in difficult circumstances. We all know why they are there and there's a respect thinking, and generally it's very good, but when a fan saunters onto the pitch at that slow a rate, it has to be affected. Society is changing all the time and you never know.

"I don't know the complexities of it, the policing, it's a shame that has to happen. I understand it. I understand rivalry, that you have to bus people into a game they could just come and watch, but to think you do all that and someone just wanders onto the pitch, it's bizarre."

Rovers manager Tony Mowbray said: "We had just lost a goal, I turned my back to talk to my staff about the goal and when I turned round I saw a melee on the pitch.

"It doesn’t do anything positive for our football club and I’m sure the authorities will deal with the people involved.

"I’m sure the vast, vast majority, if not all, the rest of the supporters will be disappointed with those who came on the pitch.

"It’s not what we want to see, it’s not what this club is about but it happened.

"I turned round and by the time I stood up I didn’t know that it had happened. I didn’t know who was on the ground, I didn’t see a fan come running on the pitch or what he did.

"I didn’t see it.

"A fan on the pitch, of course it is wrong, there’s no story from me other than saying it is wrong and the fans that came on the pitch, the authorities and the football club will deal with them as severely as they need dealing with.”

A spokesman for Rovers said: “The behaviour of the two fans has let the club down. Their actions are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. The matter is now in the hands of the police and the club will take the appropriate action in due course.”

A third Rovers fan was arrested for allegedly throwing a shoe on the pitch from the Riverside Stand when Robbie Brady made the game 2-0 in the dying minutes of the first half.

Two Burnley fans were arrested after a smoke bomb was let off in the away end which burnt a nine-year-old boy.

Two coaches carrying some of the 5,000-strong away support to Ewood Park from Turf Moor had windows smashed.

But Superintendent Russ Procter, who led the operation which saw armed officers outside Ewood Park, said he was not certain if that was due to objects being thrown from the outside or ‘over-exuberance’ from fans inside the coaches.

Supt Procter said: “On the whole it has been good natured and friendly.

“There were no arrests prior to the match and we managed to get all the coaches to the ground on time. Five people have been arrested for incidents inside the stadium.

“Two men were arrested for pitch encroachment. There is also an allegation that a player was assaulted.

“Two supporters were arrested for possession of a flare and another supporter was arrested for throwing a shoe onto the pitch.

“There has been damage to windows on two coaches.

“It is unclear at this stage whether that was down to over-exuberance from travelling supporters.”

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods said: “We expected and planned for a lively match which is exactly what we got. Due to a significantly planned and resourced policing and club operation, there were no significant incidents of disorder amongst the large number of supporters. That said, a small number have yet again let the fans down.

“I am truly appalled at the behaviour of these few, including the one believed to be from the Blackburn fans who encroached the pitch and thought it acceptable to assault a steward doing his job and two players there to partake in the match.

“Just as despicable was the man who threw the flare that hit a child. Thankfully he wasn’t too badly injured and was left with minor burns.

“I must give some recognition and thanks to the vast majority of fans who were there to enjoy the game and did not cause us or the fixture any issues.”

Anyone with information about any of the incidents is asked to call police on 101.