Some clashes broke out involving rival fans and police ahead of Watford’s thrashing of Luton today.

Bottles and coins were thrown and police were forced to draw their batons and separate crowds after trouble in Vicarage Road before the Hornets' 4-0 win.

Hundreds of police officers, as well as horses and dogs, were drafted in to manage crowds with the clubs meeting for the first time with fans in attendance since 2006.

Read more: Rampant Watford thrash Luton Town 4-0 to win Championship derby

Watford Observer: Police near Vicarage Road before kick-offPolice near Vicarage Road before kick-off (Image: Newsquest)

Heavy rain threatened to dampen the spirits of supporters but the town centre was largely good-natured from what the Observer could see with home fans packing out some of the bars, pubs, and cafes.

Watford Observer: Police in Watford town centre before kick-offPolice in Watford town centre before kick-off (Image: Newsquest)

The first signs of trouble emerged in Vicarage Road at around 11.35am. A group of men were walking up to the stadium when there was an exchange with a small group of fans outside an off-licence shop near the junction with Occupation Road.

A man tried to get at the group by the shop before police officers, who were just yards away, stepped in.

Plastic bottles were also thrown with one striking a female police officer’s helmet. Flares were also set off. 

Watford Observer: Crowds and smoke in Vicarage Road after trouble broke out near a shop involving fans and police Crowds and smoke in Vicarage Road after trouble broke out near a shop involving fans and police (Image: Newsquest)

During the incident, one person by the shop appeared to have been struck by an object, because they were left lying curled up on the ground not moving.

Bu they were no longer there around 15 minutes later and there was no suggestion paramedics were needed.

Watford Observer: Police in Vicarage Road after trouble broke outPolice in Vicarage Road after trouble broke out (Image: newsquest)

With those involved not wearing club colours, it was not entirely clear which club either group was associated with.

But there were chants of 'Watford get battered everywhere they go' and 'You Orns' filling the air making it clear fans from both teams were in the immediate area.

Following the clash, police moved a row of their vans into Vicarage Road to try and get crowds further up towards the stadium.

Some batons were drawn as fans from both sides appeared to argue or want to fight, as a line of officers attempted to keep rival fans apart.

Away fans were moved on towards the away fans entrance as police managed to get on top of the clashes and restore order.

Some further arguments between rival supporters threatened to escalate but enough officers were stationed to stop anything getting out of hand.

Watford Observer: A police officer in Vicarage Road with his baton drawnA police officer in Vicarage Road with his baton drawn (Image: Newsquest)

As the minutes ticked down to kick-off, the scene grew much calmer with officers venturing back to their vans for a break and to begin preparing for after the game.

Watford Observer: Police return to their vans with most fans now inside the stadiumPolice return to their vans with most fans now inside the stadium (Image: Newsquest)

The statue of Graham Taylor – Watford’s greatest ever manager - was protected by fencing ahead of the game. The statue was still visible through the fencing and was not targeted before the midday kick-off.

However, there were some unsavoury chants that could be clearly heard both inside and outside the ground of ‘Graham’s in a box’ referencing the death of Mr Taylor, who passed away in January 2017.

Watford Observer: Fencing protecting the statue of Graham TaylorFencing protecting the statue of Graham Taylor (Image: newsquest)

The Observer did not witness any other trouble in the town or by the stadium and is not aware of any widespread social media reports of any other major incidents before kick-off.

For after the match, Watford FC and Hertfordshire Constabulary drew up a plan in order to keep fans separated.

Watford fans were asked to follow two allocated routes away from the stadium with Luton fans to be led down Vicarage Road towards the town centre.

Watford Observer: Police vehicles and officers in Vicarage Road before the matchPolice vehicles and officers in Vicarage Road before the match (Image: newsquest)

The Observer has not been been aware of any notable incidents after the game ended at this time.

Hertfordshire Constabulary, had warned there would be a "significant" police presence and that disorder would not be tolerated.

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