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Accrington Stanley 0 Chester City 2

CHAIRMAN Eric Whalley has made no secret of the fact he wants Accrington Stanley in the Football League as soon as possible.

ON THE HUNT... Paul Cook and Jerome Fitzgerald battle for the ball
ON THE HUNT... Paul Cook and Jerome Fitzgerald battle for the ball

CHAIRMAN Eric Whalley has made no secret of the fact he wants Accrington Stanley in the Football League as soon as possible.

And Chester City are the benchmark for any Conference club who want to achieve that.

A full-time club with a prolific strikeforce in Daryl Clare and Darren Stamp, a strong defence and a battling midfield - which has produced consistent performances with just three league defeats all season.

Chester know they just have to keep winning and the title and league football is theirs despite Hereford keeping tabs on the leaders all the way.

But the game was also a boost for Stanley boss John Coleman who was pleased to see his team are not too far off the promotion contenders.

Okay, the chances are evading the Stanley frontmen at the moment, there are some jaded legs and any shaky moments in defence are being punished.

But, in the learning curve that is this season, the Reds chief admitted he knows his side can put it right for the next campaign.

"Chester are going to win the league and there was nothing between the two sides which is testament to how far we have come on as a club," said Coleman.

"Hopefully we can go on from there and we are starting to put things in place for next season as well. We want to finish as high up as we can which will set us in good stead for next season."

Chester scored through defender Scott Guyett who headed home a well-worked Jamie Heard short corner.

And then Robbie Williams saw red in the final minute for pulling back prolific striker Clare who stood up to take the spot kick.

It was the Reds 13th dismissal of the season - and the defender's second - and seemed harsh on Stanley who have tried to clean up their act in recent weeks.

"I think the penalty was punishment enough," said Coleman. "The sending off was a sickener. I can't keep saying it seems to happen to us - but it does keep happening to us."

"To be honest though, I thought the officials were quite good."

"I think we perhaps gave Chester too much respect in the first 15 minutes but then we pushed them back and played well. Whether you win or lose though, I know I always get 100 per cent from this team. If we are not successful it is not for the lack of trying."

The Reds were limited to half chances with Darran Kempson heading over, a Steve Hollis ball in being fluffed by the keeper and then sub Dean Calcutt testing Iain Taylor with an 18-yard blast.

But Chester were lively with Heard firing in dangerous crosses and winger Michael Twiss proving a handful, hitting the upright with one long range effort.

But 44-goal strikeforce Darren Stamp and Clare were kept relatively quiet by the Stanley defence until Clare was gifted number 25 for the season from the spot.

This was as Stanley went for the equaliser as Coleman changed things around - putting on right winger Calcutt in the first half and later adding Steve Flitcroft and John Durnin to the fray but without reward.

He admitted the Reds missed left winger Rory Prendergast who served the last of his two game suspension.

"We missed his threat going forward," said Coleman. "I think teams are wary of him and that gives us a little more space when he plays. But there is no point moaning about it. That's football."

The goals aren't going in at the moment but Coleman still thinks Lutel James and Paul Mullin will add to their 17 and 18-goal league tally respectively before the end of the season.

"Strikers have situations like that. It is just how you come through them. You need a lucky bobble and the ball could end in the back of the net."

"I never see Lutel and Paul as out-and-out strikers and if they get their 20 goals every season they are doing well. You need things to go your way sometimes and then everything clicks into gear - you have three or four goals before you know it. I am positive they will have another four or five each before the end of the season."


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