Hundreds of Burton Albion supporters faced missing one of the biggest games in the club’s history by being stuck in traffic en route to the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
Staffordshire Police said 34 fan buses and coaches from Burton had arrived at Etihad Stadium in time for the 19:45 GMT kick-off for the first leg.
Around 3,000 Burton supporters had tickets for the game.
Numerous traffic incidents had caused tailbacks on the M6.
At 18:45 GMT – an hour before kick-off – only one of the coaches had arrived in Manchester, though there were still large banks of empty seats inside the stadium at the start of the game.
Emily, a Burton fan, told BBC Radio 5 live she had been stuck for two-and-a-half hours, saying: “I am on the M6 just north of Stoke-on-Trent. I was at work this morning in London and I booked the afternoon off.
“I left London at 13:00 GMT and I made it past my parents’ house in Burton at around 15:45 and I’ve been at a standstill since 16:15.”
Gary, another Burton supporter, was one of the lucky ones to arrive on time and told BBC Sport: “This is our cup final. We are not going to win but you never know – we are up here to support our team.”
The motorway had been closed after a number of people were found in the back of a lorry which was stopped by police.