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Accrington Stanley 2 Hereford United 0

MIDFIELDER Andy Procter has barely had time to pause for thought after a breath-taking week for Accrington Stanley.

AIMING HIGH . . . Rory Prendergast just avoids a Hereford boot
AIMING HIGH . . . Rory Prendergast just avoids a Hereford boot

MIDFIELDER Andy Procter has barely had time to pause for thought after a breath-taking week for Accrington Stanley.

The euphoria of the FA Cup win over Huddersfield had hardly died down before the Reds faced an even bigger match in their quest for Football League status in trying to topple then Conference leaders Hereford on Tuesday night.

Even the most ardent of Reds fans would have forgiven their heroic side for being tired with two tough games in three days and, for many of the Accrington players, going to work in between. But there was no stopping Stanley as they ran themselves into the ground to come away with three points to keep them in the hunt for at least a play-off spot.

The Reds have only lost once in their last 15 outings and midfielder Procter is still shell-shocked by the whole season so far.

"It's been great hasn't it? Especially the last week. People have told me I might never experience a week like it in my career again and I have enjoyed it," said Procter.

For a 20-year-old, studying a sports science degree at Leeds University, all the attention might be too much but the Blackburn-born player is taking it all in his stride.

"John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell) have been great with me. They have told me to just keep it simple but when you have got players like Paul Mullin and Lutel James up front and Rory Prendergast going forward, it is a great help. I am just enjoying it all at the moment."

And the whole team look like they are delighting in their recent fame as Hereford, despite setting the pace in the division, offered little in the early stages.

The first half was all Stanley and although goalmouth action was limited, it did seem only a matter of time before the Reds found the back of the net. Winger Rory Prendergast was again a thorn in the Bulls' side on the left wing while Paul Cook, Andy Gouck and Procter dominated the centre of midfield.

Jonathan Smith had come into the centre of defence as Steve Halford struggled with a knock picked up in the Huddersfield clash and he and Robbie Williams must have been surprised at how little a threat Steve Guinan and Rob Purdie offered in the first half. Prendergast fired in a number of good crosses with a defender just getting there ahead of Mullin, who was charging in on 14 minutes, and a bounce at the far post just evaded the waiting James on the half-hour. Smith also had a header which went straight into keeper Matt Baker's arms while Cook broke through but his effort was straight at Baker.

But they eventually broke the deadlock when Prendergast charged down the flank and he fired in a dangerous ball across the face of goal which James bundled over the line for his 11th goal of the season.

Stanley deserved the one-goal advantage but it was obvious the Bulls would have to pick up the pace after the break - and they did. Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy had already been called into action on the stroke of half-time to take the ball off Danny Williams who was lining up a shot on the edge of the area. And he was in the thick of it on 55 minutes when Purdie got ahead of Robbie Williams and raced into the area. But the Stanley shot-stopper charged out, and was able to get his legs to the striker's shot and keep Stanley ahead.

Kennedy had to be alert again to stop Guinan racing onto the ball on 64 minutes and two minutes later it was deja vue as he raced to the edge of the area to keep out Purdie. Coleman changed things around on 64 minutes bringing on Gordon Armstrong and taking off FA Cup hero Gouck to help shut-up shop at the back but it was tense for the Reds. And Hereford, who had lost their last two games, will be kicking themselves they didn't score after Michael Rose's long throw caused chaos in the Stanley box but they were relieved when Paul Parry wasted the chance by blasting over.

And then it was safe. Stanley broke, the ball came into the box, James had a go but the ball fell to Mullin and his right foot shot flashed past the Hereford defence and into the back of the net on 79 minutes.

"The lads have shown what a good side we can be and this week has been a highlight for all of us," added Procter. "It has been brilliant."


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