SHEFFIELD Wednesday manager Dave Jones branded Leeds United fans ‘vile animals’ after goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was assaulted last night at Hillsborough during the Yorkshire derby.
The furious Owls manager also called for Leeds fans to be banned from away matches until the incident was “sorted out”.
Kirkland was floored by the fan just after United equalised on 76 minutes.
Jones said: “You can’t let them get away with that - they’re vile animals.”
He also criticised United boss Neil Warnock for encouraging his players to applaud their fans.
A Leeds spokesman publicly apologised for the fan’s punch and pledged to co-operate with the police and football authorities to identify the person.
Jones also objected to chanting by a large number of away supporters and said seats had been damaged in the West Stand where they were accommodated.
The furious Owls manager felt that the away supporters’ behaviour marred a “great game” and an impressive performance by his team.
Leeds issued a statement apologising for the assault on keeper Kirkland and said they would co-operate with the police and football authorities in identifying him.
Jones also criticised Leeds boss Neil Warnock for encouraging his players to applaud the away fans after the game.
The Owls manager, referring to the Leeds fans, said: “They need to clean their house and get it in order. They should be banned from every away game from now until they sort it, because that was an absolute disgrace.
“If I’ve got three subs on, and Chris Kirkland is carried off, what happens?
“We have to go down to 10 men and put an outfield player in goal. That’s not right.”
Kirkland was struck in the face by a fan who came on to the pitch from the away end moments after Leeds had equalised in the 76th minute.
The keeper was floored and there was a four-minute hold-up while he received attention.
Jones said Kirkland, who completed the game was sore and dazed, and probably concussed.
“It spoils it, because it was a really good derby game,” added Jones. “I said to Neil, and I’m not talking behind his back, that to send his players to clap them [the fans], no, I’m sorry, that’s not right. If you’re going to make a stand, make it in your own house.
“How many fans did Leeds bring? (It was 5,000). They’re all going to get tarred with the same brush, and that’s not right, but they will do, because, from what I could hear, it wasn’t one person chanting the vile things, there were quite a lot of them.
“I thought those days had gone.”
A Leeds United statement said: “Leeds United would like to publicly apologise for the actions of the fan who went on to the pitch and attacked Chris Kirkland. The club will fully co-operate with the police and the football authorities to identify the individual concerned.
“After the week that football has endured, there is no place for this behaviour, and the majority of Leeds fans will be ashamed of his actions.”