How we use Cookies

Accrington Stanley 2 Stevenage Borough 1

ACCRINGTON Stanley manager John Coleman dared to suggest his star strikers might be lacking a bit confidence in front of goal.

ACCRINGTON Stanley manager John Coleman dared to suggest his star strikers might be lacking a bit confidence in front of goal.

But Lutel James and Paul Mullin made sure the boss knew they were still on top of their game - by both firing Stanley to their first win in three games. Mullin hadn't scored in six games prior to Saturday and James hadn't found the back of the net in four matches which coincided with a tricky patch for the Reds. Both had been prolific earlier in the season and it was a crucial time for the Reds to bounce back and keep their place in the top eight.

"I have been missing a few chances so it is nice to get on the scoresheet and win - it is no good scoring if you don't win," said James. "Now we have to pick up as many points as possible and work hard. Half the games we have lost have been down to our own mistakes.

"We have let ourselves down in the last few games and we have had chances to win without taking them - and that is collectively - so it was important to win."

Stevenage manager Graham Westley described the game as a "lottery" because of a blustery wind which was behind Boro in the first half and the Reds after the break.

"I couldn't be too disappointed as it was like losing the toss of a coin," said the Boro manager whose promotion hopes were blown off course with the loss. "I knew we were in trouble when the coach up here nearly got blown over around 25 times on the motorway."

He must have been pleased with the way his side started though as the wind helped Dean Brennan's second minute effort test Stanley keeper Jon Kennedy. And they took the lead when lively 18-year-old George Boyd fired in a corner which Brennan headed down and it found it's way into the net.

"We defended well in the first half but we fell asleep for the goal," said Coleman. "It was a lack of communication but they were fortunate as it was actually going wide but it flew in. Peter Cavanagh left it and its gone in over his head."

Kennedy had to parry away another Brennan long range effort and Jerome Fitzgerald was in the right place to clear the otherwise quiet Anthony Elding's effort off the line. But, with the wind behind them, the Reds made sure they took their chances in the second half.

Winger Rory Prendergast had been unusually quiet due to the conditions but he was there to make one of his usual runs down the left flank, get in a cross which James jumped for and bundled home at the second attempt.

"The lads are telling me it was the biggest jump ever," said the striker. "John had been telling us to get in on the back post and we haven't been doing it enough so I made that extra effort to get there and get something on it.

"It ended up falling to me and I bundled it in - it doesn't matter how it goes in!"

Coleman admitted: "I told the lads before the game not to worry about missing chances in the future because you can get a complex about it and I am more guilty of that than anybody. I told them to relax and thankfully we took both of our two chances. It has gone full circle from taking around 10 per cent of our chances to taking 100 per cent of them. Chances were at a premium and when we got a chance we needed to stick it in."

And Mullin did that just three minutes later when a long ball forward split the Boro defence, Barry Laker failed to clear and Mullin was there to volley home from just inside the area - his 19th league goal of the campaign. And he could have had another when he tried to chip keeper Mark Westhead on 84 minutes but Laker raced back to clear his effort.

Coleman was delighted for his hitmen.

"The two of them never stop working. They might miss chances or might not play particularly well but they never hide. That is comforting for a manager when you have got lads who are like them and will put themselves in the firing line.

"I said to all the lads before the game that we have got to start feeling good about ourselves again and we made a conscious effort in the team talk to say we have done well, we are a good side instead of beating ourselves up about things."

And he was proud of the way his team battled in the tough weather.

"It was a difficult game with the conditions," continued Coleman. "The wind will spoil any game of football and the best teams in the world will struggle to play football with that and we are no different. It was hard to get out in the first half but we defended well. We rolled our sleeves up and put a couple of good tackles in. We looked to have some steel about us now it is a case of getting our heads down and trying to win as many games as possible."

James admitted it was no fun playing out there.

"It was a horrible game with the wind but it is good to play horrible games and come out with a win."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist