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Accrington Stanley 0 Peterborough 2

ONE-TIME Stanley target Aaron McLean was celebrating a wanted record at the FES while Reds manager John Coleman was downbeat about one he had been keen to avoid.

GROUNDED . . . Stanley defender Mark Roberts

ONE-TIME Stanley target Aaron McLean was celebrating a wanted record at the FES while Reds manager John Coleman was downbeat about one he had been keen to avoid.

Former Conference hitman McLean, who was pursued by Coleman before he signed for Posh, made it seven goals in seven starts for his side, breaking a 47-year-old club record when he fired home his 90th minute goal.

Coleman, meanwhile, made it four games without a goal - the longest spell in his eight-year Stanley managerial career that he hasn't seen a ball hit the back of the net for the Reds.

And the Stanley chief was first to admit that his struggling side were second best on a day when Posh reasserted their tag as promotion favourites - after two league defeats - and the Reds dropped to the foot of the early League Two table.

"I can't have any complaints about the result," said Coleman, whose side have scored just once in the league this season.

"If we do not start scoring goals at home it is going to be a long, hard season.

"It is a concern especially at home where it puts us under pressure. We just haven't clicked going forward in our last three games but we will get it right.

"Sometimes when a team comes and plays well you have to try and play better than them and we played better when we went down to ten men."

That was when, on 63 minutes, bustling striker Lee McEvilly was sent off for stamping on winger Jamie Day, who had ran the Stanley defence ragged all game.

McEvilly had been dropped for the first time this season and had only been on the pitch ten minutes when referee Darren Drysdale showed his a straight red for violent conduct.

Fans had been worried about the hitman's temperament and the former Wrexham man will now face a three-match ban - and a club punishment.

And, to add to this, Graham Branch was sent for an early bath just before the end of the clash when he was shown a second yellow card - after walking a tightrope from the fifth minute when he tripped McLean for a penalty.

Goalkeeper Kenny Arthur did then produce heroics to save the spot kick - and leave Mclean to hang on until the dying minutes to claim his club record.

"I thought it was never going to come," admitted the ex-Grays striker, who also hit the woodwork.

This was because Reds goalie Arthur was in inspired form, saving the penalty, tracking back to deny former Stevenage man George Boyd early on and pulling off a great stop to keep out Day's close range effort before half-time.

Posh did find the back of the net in the first half but Day's scrambled shot, after a header by Charlie Lee was pushed out by Arthur, was ruled out for off-side.

It was real backs-to-the-walls stuff for Stanley who struggled to get out of their own half before the break but, despite the constant Boro pressure, Stanley did carve out one great chance which looked a certain goal on 42 minutes.

Rommy Boco worked hard on the left edge of the area and played in a cross for Paul Mullin and the crowd - under the now safety of the Clayton End roof - expected to see his header find the back of the net.

But instead the long-serving star steered it over the bar - much to Coleman's frustration.

But it remained goalless at half-time and the Reds - who had changed their line-up with John Miles partnering Mullin up front and Shaun Whalley given a start on the wing - must had thought they had weathered what was a strong storm from Darren Ferguson's men.

However, it soon went wrong after the break.

Arthur had already pulled off a superb one-handed save to keep out McLean's flying header when Mark Roberts needlessly gave a free kick away on the left hand side of the area ten minutes after the re-start.

Days' short free kick set up Lee on the edge of the area and he was allowed the time and space to run forward with the ball and blast past Arthur.

The goal had been coming and then, to add to the home side's woes, McEvilly had a rush of blood to the head and was dismissed.

However, the Reds were certainly not down and out and the ten-men then enjoyed their best spell of pressure with just the one goal in it. Posh keeper Mark Tyler made his first save scrambling to stop Branch's effort going in the top corner on 71 minutes.

Then the Reds screamed for a penalty when Boco was upended in the area eight minutes from time but Mr Drysdale was having none of it despite Coleman's protests from the bench.

The Reds kept pressing but, with one man short, Stanley were exposed and it was that man McLean again who ran through one-on-one but Roberts got back to deny him and then he hit the crossbar in the dying minutes.

In a grandstand finish, Branch fired narrowly over from 20 yards while Boco's close range goalbound effort was blocked.

But the steam must have gone out of the home side when left back Branch was shown a second yellow card after catching the legs of the speedy Josh Low to leave the Reds with nine men in injury-time.

There was then a bizarre incident where three footballs rolled onto the pitch from the home dug out and physio Ian Liversedge was talked to by the referee.

But none of it distracted the visitors and Arthur could do nothing to stop McLean whose 20 yarder found the back of the net with virtually the last kick of the game.

"I can have no complaints about the sendings off but I felt the turning point was when we weren't given a blatant penalty," fumed Coleman. "We didn't get a decision for us, we never got a 50/50."

 

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