Two robbers poured petrol on the floor of an off-licence in front of an elderly shopkeeper and threatened to set it alight unless she handed over money, police said yesterday.

The offenders struck at Atwals off-licence, in Bedworth, Warwick-shire, but left empty handed when the woman and her husband fought them off. The men struck just after 9pm on Friday when they stormed into the shop, one brandishing a

green plastic petrol can and the other waving a cigarette lighter.

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police said they demanded money from the till and then poured petrol directly in front of the woman.

One of the men repeatedly lit the lighter to reinforce his demands, the spokeswoman added.

She said both men were forced to leave the shop when the woman, accompanied by her husband, fought them off. They fled along Marston Lane into a cemetery.

The man with the petrol can is white, in his late 20s or early 30s, 5ft 6in to 5ft 8in, of average build, and wore a beanie-style hat, light jacket and dark trousers.

The other man was over 6ft tall, slim and wearing a white polo shirt and blue jeans. The victims were treated for shock.