BOURNEMOUTH fans have been blamed for provoking the ugly scenes of violence that marred Saints’ crucial victory over their south coast neighbours.

Trouble erupted inside St Mary’s just minutes before the final whistle of the 2-0 win, secured with two controversial penalties by Rickie Lambert.

Cherries supporters kicked through the barrier by the bar in the concourse, the corridor separating home and away fans at the back of the Northam stand.

A female steward was pushed to the floor as thugs got among the Saints fans.

After full-time officers were forced to put out metal barriers to keep apart rival sets of fans spilling out of the ground and contain Bournemouth supporters in the car park where they were hurling abuse and charging at police. Saints fans then tried to throw the metal barriers and get at the travelling fans.

A young boy was left in tears after he was flung to the floor and a police officer was kicked after he was pushed over.

Dozens of officers, backed up by the ground’s stewards, brought the situation under control before Cherries fans were escorted from St Mary’s towards Southampton Central railway station.

But a number of violent incidents broke out along the way. Two men began pushing and wrestling each other just metres away from the stadium as terrified families tried to get past.

Saints and Cherries fans then clashed when they hurled insults at each other at the corner of Britannia Road at its junction with Northam Road where home supporters had gathered.

Police dogs had to be brought in to separate hundreds of rival fans as violence erupted when they met at the junction with Above Bar Street leaving shoppers and bus passengers stunned.

The chaotic scenes were captured by a BBC camera crew filming a documentary about football hooliganism.

They were the worst scenes since the FA Cup derby with Portsmouth in February when 14 people were charged with violent disorder and 12 pleaded guilty to their part in clashes at Freeborn Motors in Britannia Road.

At least 90 officers dressed in normal police attire – “intentionally not dressed for a riot” – were on duty for the specially- planned operation around the game.

Only six arrests were made but police have vowed to comb through CCTV pictures to find other troublemakers.

Five supporters – four from Bournemouth – were thrown out of St Mary’s while the game was in progress.

Fans were last night criticising police for not keeping the Bournemouth fans inside the stadium after full time.

But Superintendent Rick Burrows, head of public order and in charge of football policing across Hampshire, insisted he would not change anything saying holding fans back restricts the liberty of the vast majority of innocent fans as well as creating a potentially dangerous environment.

He said: “It was not the police who caused the disturbance by not keeping the fans in. A number of fans were intent on committing football related disorder. It’s disappointing whenever there is an outbreak of disorder either before or after a football match. The vast majority of fans came and enjoyed a great day, a good match, but it was spoiled by a small few who decided to take out their frustrations.”

Daily Echo: For a video of the top stories in today's Daily Echo, click the front page.

Supt Burrows added: “In 26 years of policing football I know something is there when the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“The banter changed completely when you could see fans attacking the divide. That was the catalyst and it spreads like wildfire. It is almost contagious.

The mood was ugly and there were a lot of people dancing and swearing. I want to make clear there were no mass scenes of riots or football hooliganism but there was sporadic disorder.

“They were not spontaneous. They were premeditated attempts to get involved in disorder.”

Saints Trust chairman Nick Illingsworth said he thought Bournemouth fans were intent on causing trouble.

He said: “This was a big game for them. They haven’t got any local rivals and in this sense they have got chips on their shoulders. They are desperately trying to nudge in on that and this was their big day and they wanted to make a show of it.

AFC Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell said: “I didn’t see anything that you wouldn’t see at any football game.

“I can imagine our fans being a bit disappointed with the result but I can’t see any reason for this.

“There’s no reason to go and get yourself arrested, but there’s two sides to every story.”