Roy Hodgson plays down crowd trouble fears for Crystal Palace trip to Brighton

• Last season’s fixture marred by crowd disturbances
• Match follows ugly off-field incidents over weekend

Roy Hodgson is confident Crystal Palace’s potentially combustible fixture at Brighton will not see a repeat of the ugly off-field incidents which marred the weekend’s Premier League programme, with Sussex police keen to demonstrate lessons have been learned from last season’s league meeting between the rivals.

There will be an increased police presence around the Amex Stadium, Brighton and in neighbouring towns on Tuesday night in the hope the fixture passes more smoothly than the corresponding midweek game a little over a year ago.

Around 200 Palace supporters had been denied access to the stadium that night, held by police and then ushered on to trains, with two stewards taken to hospital as tempers boiled over outside the ground. The visitors have sold out an increased allocation approaching 2,400 tickets this season.

While flares and smoke bombs had been lit in the away end during the goalless draw, the police were subsequently forced into an embarrassing climbdown for suggesting “knives and knuckle-dusters” had been confiscated from the travelling support.

The force apologised to both clubs for the comments made by superintendent Simon Nelson – who initially suggested the scenes had represented “a return to the dark days of football” – but have since been found to have breached the Freedom of Information Act by the Information Commissioner’s Office after failing to explain why those allegations had been made in the first place.

Six arrests were made at last November’s fixture. Superintendent Howard Hodges of Sussex police has since described the force as a “learning organisation”.

Tuesday’s latest meeting between the sides comes after four men were charged by the Metropolitan police over incidents related to Sunday’s north London derby. Merseyside police have also launched an inquiry after items were thrown on to the pitch at Anfield on the same day, while Huddersfield Town are investigating reports – filed by Town’s LGBT supporters group, Proud Terriers – that visiting Brighton fans were subjected to homophobic abuse in the teams’ game on Saturday.

“No one would do anything other than to condemn the behaviour of fans who do those type of things,” said Hodgson. “I’m expecting our fans to behave well on Tuesday and I’m expecting the Brighton fans to behave well. Unfortunately there are always going to be instances where some people don’t but the major difference today compared to the really bad times of crowd violence – where such incidents were an everyday occurrence – is that people are very quick to jump in and condemn the behaviour and clubs are very quick to identify culprits and suspend culprits these days.”

Sussex police’s assistant chief constable, Steve Barry, added: “We have been working with partners, including the Albion, British Transport police and other emergency services colleagues and we are looking forward to a safe and enjoyable match for everyone attending.”

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