Shrewsbury manager Steve Cotterill condemned the Bristol Rovers fans who subjected him to a torrent of vile abuse following the 1-1 draw at the Memorial Ground.
The former Bristol City boss was heading down the touchline for his post-match interview duties when he was stopped in his tracks by home fans in the stands who targeted him with a string of four-letter words.
One fan also shouted “I wish you were dead” at Cotterill, who had a brush with death during a long battle with Covid-19 last season.
Cotterill was involved in a verbal stand-off with the small group of middle-aged men lingering in the stands before they were silenced by a fellow Rovers fan as children milled around the ground.
“I came back here as a former Bristol City manager who has been successful and I’ve still got a home in the city,” Cotterill said.
“That abuse is not acceptable but I have lots of good friends who are ardent Rovers fans.
“It’s a few people who decide they wanted to have something to say but I don’t know what you can do about it. You’ve got to take it.
“They are far enough away from you but there’s a lot of people who are brave when they are 20 or 30 feet away.
“The stewarding was pretty good and another guy told them to pipe down but unfortunately this happens in football. Thankfully, it’s an isolated incident.”
It marred an exciting finale that saw Shrewsbury striker Ryan Bowman play the role of super-sub to perfection to rescue a point for the visitors with a close-range 80th-minute strike.
He struck after fellow replacement Ryan Loft had Rovers ahead in the 68th minute – just seven minutes after entering the fray – after being superbly teed up by striker Aaron Collins.
Cotterill was disappointed his return to the West Country only yielded a draw, stating: “I was really pleased with the way we applied ourselves in what’s an unforgiving place but we had something like 20 attempts on goal so I’m not satisfied with a point.”
Rovers manager Joey Barton later took a swipe at Cotterill after being asked about a series of stoppages that broke up play – much to the former Newcastle player’s frustration.
Barton said: “It was game that they set out their stall early and they paid us the ultimate compliment by playing five at the back but we’re gutted we haven’t taken maximum points.
“The stoppages are part of their strategy. Steve’s been coaching for a long time, but I’m not sure I would come out on a Saturday afternoon if that was what I was coaching.
“I would stay in the house to watch Liverpool win 9-0. I don’t get it. Is that what he’s been taught in the game? But we’ve got to find solutions.
“We aren’t a free-flowing side like Barcelona so it will be tricky when teams camp in their own half and don’t show very much ambition.
“I take it as a compliment that they were fearful of us. If I was the manager of an established League One side against a newly-promoted side like us I would say ‘let’s take them on’.
“That’s probably why they have only won six in 20-odd and they won’t win many points for stylistics.
“And players won’t want to play like that. They want to play football.”