REFEREE Graham Pugh has defended his decision to abandon the Hellenic Premier Division game between Fairford Town and Royal Wootton Bassett Town before half-time.

The match at Cinder Lane last night erupted as a melee broke out and subsequent red cards were handed out to Bassett’s Brad Pagliaroli and Fairford captain Callum Preece.

And as tempers continued to boil, Bassett players surrounded the Stroud-based referee and his assistants before Pugh reached for his whistle to blow for the end of the game.

After the game Pugh tweeted: “I know referees should stay off social media, but surely we are allowed to explain whether right or wrong, we’re responsible for player safety, it was the hardest decision I have made in six years on the Hellenic League and I couldn’t take the risk.

“We don’t like to send players off but there are rules of the game we have to abide by if we didn’t, why bother having referees?

“I personally do this as I love football and due to an injury years ago I had to hang the boots up, but wanted to give something back and be involved.

“In grassroots football, I am only human and like players we all make mistakes, but I have never humiliated a player for a misplaced pass or missing a shot on goal, I referee with the upmost respect for all players I officiate for.”

The Wilts and Glos have contacted the Hellenic League for a statement.

Your Sport Swindon captured the melee and the moment Pugh abandoned the game. Watch the drama unfold HERE