SUNDAY footballer Zak Lyons kicked an opponent in the face studs-first after a game in which the other player had got ‘right under his skin’ during the match.
But despite his victim suffering hairline fractures to his skull and cheekbone, Shirley Town player Lyons escaped an immediate custodial sentence.
Lyons, 19, of Lady Lane, Shirley, Solihull, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to assaulting opponent Andrew Masters causing him actual bodily harm.
He was sentenced to nine months detention suspended for 12 months, with 12 months supervision, and was ordered to pay £400 compensation to Mr Masters and to take part in a victim awareness course.
Prosecutor Iain Willis said the incident took place following a Shirley Town home game against Yardley Dynamo, for whom Mr Masters played in goal, in March last year. In the second half, one of the Dynamo players fouled one of the Shirley Town side, which led to members of both teams squaring up to each other. The incident was dealt with by the referee.
Afterwards things did seem friendly, with members of both teams shaking hands – but when the keeper put his hand out to shake his hand, Lyons squirted him from his water bottle.
Mr Masters, who considered himself old enough to be Lyons’ father, did not react and went towards the changing room, but Lyons approached him and challenged ‘Come on, me and you.’
Although he was pulled away, Lyons broke free and ran at Mr Masters, knocking him into the dressing-room door and then kicking him studs-first in the face, said Mr Willis.
Recorder Martine Kushner told Lyons: “I have seen the pictures, and it does not make pretty viewing. You were in very, very great danger of going inside.”