Norwich City supporters received an apology from Suffolk police yesterday after an internal investigation examined disturbances before the Canaries' triumphant away win over bitter rivals Ipswich Town last season.

About 400 City fans, many of them women and children, missed the beginning of the 5-1 drubbing of Ipswich Town on April 21 because of a large presence of rival fans and pockets of disorder stretching police resources outside Portman Road.

Ipswich fans had tried to break through police lines to reach Canaries' supporters and threw objects at them.

Yesterday Suffolk police released the results of an internal investigation and apologised to Norwich fans for problems they had encountered on the derby night, which saw 2,125 away fans cheer on their side.

As well as apologising for causing confusion by telling fans there was a delayed kick off time and the problems of crowd congestion, the report recommended that Suffolk police should deploy larger numbers of specially trained officers at derby games to prevent public disorder.

After the trouble, Norwich City and fans complained to Suffolk police about the way it handled the policing of the game.

Yesterday's report praised officers for their courage and professionalism for 'being subjected to danger themselves' before the game. Police also praised the majority of both set of fans for their impeccable behaviour on the night.

A Norwich City spokesman said: 'We are pleased Suffolk Police agreed to carry out this investigation into issues which affected many of our supporters who attended our game at Ipswich last April.

'It is good to see the police have identified areas for improvement for handling any future derby games and that they have apologised to our supporters for giving misleading information on the day that kick-off had been delayed.

'We hope the lessons learned will lead to an improved experience for our supporters attending any future games at Portman Road.'