Police reinforcements racing to the Hillsborough disaster to stop fighting on the pitch were told to "wipe the smiles off your faces because people are dying", the inquest heard.

With adrenaline ­pumping, it was suggested officers were looking forward to dealing with the pitch invaders as initially they thought they were being called to a public order incident, not a fatal crushing on the terraces.

Stephen Simblet, representing some of the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died, questioned Richard Barnes, a police sergeant with South Yorkshire Police, but at the time of the 1989 disaster, a PC with fewer than two years' service.

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Sgt Barnes told the ­hearing he was on duty in Rotherham on the day of the disaster when they got the call for all available units across the force to be scrambled to the stadium.

They were told it was a "critical incident" at Hillsborough of fighting on the pitch and left Rotherham for Hammerton Road Police Station near the stadium.

Mr Simblet said: "It would appear that the impression was given was someone at Hammerton Road Police Station that some among you were looking forward to expecting some form of confrontation because ­somebody said words to the effect: 'You had better wipe the smiles off your faces because people are dying.'"

Sgt Barnes replied: "Certainly not looking forward to confrontation, but obviously the reason we attended there was totally different to what we were informed."

Previously the jury has heard match commander Chief Supt David Duckenfield ordered an exit gate at the ground to be opened shortly before kick-off for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.

Supporters were still massed outside the ground at the Leppings Lane turnstiles with the central pens filling up.

An estimated 2,000 fans came in when the gate was opened and 96 fans were crushed to death.

The hearing, in Warrington, was adjourned until Monday morning.