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Accrington Stanley 3 Burton Albion 1

JOHN Coleman must have wished he had had a bet on Steve Hollis scoring a goal.

PAUL Mullin lines up a shot at goal
PAUL Mullin lines up a shot at goal

JOHN Coleman must have wished he had had a bet on Steve Hollis scoring a goal.

The Reds boss admitted he had said to the left back before the match that he thought he would score. Hollis hasn't found the back of the net in around two years but the Reds chief somehow knew it would be Hollis's night.

"I told him to get on the free kicks and have a go," said Coleman. "I just fancied him to score - I just had a feeling he would get one."

And Hollis did just that, firing home the second Stanley goal as the Reds extended their unbeaten run to six games. He tried his luck with a 25-yard free kick and the ball squirmed under the body of Burton keeper Matthew Duke.

"I think everyone was turning round and running back towards the centre," joked Hollis. "I don't think they could believe it had gone in. I was pleased as Coley had said he thought I would score today so I tried to have a go on the free kick. I don't usually take them but he told me to battle to have my turn!

"It's my first goal in around two years so I am happy with that. We were sick of the forwards getting all the goals anyway!

Hollis has been one of the stars of the season so far for the Reds. He had an operation on his knee and was out for 12 months, only coming back towards the back end of last season. But he has started every game so far in the Conference and has been a revelation.

"I have enjoyed it. I didn't know if I would still be here in the summer so it was good just to still be part of it. We are getting used to playing at this level now and we know we have no-one to fear. It is nice to have a six- game unbeaten run and it breeds confidence.

"Personally, I think I have done okay this season. I started off well but then felt a twinge in my Achilles but I have been fine since then. It was actually nice to play in the cooler weather as well - and of course keep 11 men on the pitch!"

The Reds always looked in control of this one despite Burton having a good win over leaders Hereford last Friday night. Coleman brought in striker John Durnin to play up front alongside Paul Mullin and Lutel James remained on the right wing.

There were half chances at either end but Durnin felt he should have had a penalty after Ian Wright appeared to clip his heels in the area on 14 minutes. Albion defender Aaron Webster then almost scored a spectacular own goal as his back pass to keeper Duke missed Duke, although the ball was slow enough for the keeper to rush back and clear.

Stanley forced all the early pressure once the game settled down and then got their reward. Rory Prendergast played a great ball into the area and Paul Mullin was there six yards out to score his second in two games.

Striker Mullin then had two one-on-ones with the keeper and perhaps had too much time as Duke managed to deal with them both.

Burton were dangerous on the break but got what was really an undeserved equaliser three minutes before the interval. Jonathan Howard played a ball in to the near post from the left and, with Robbie Talbot and Halford racing in, Halford got the last touch to turn it into his own net.

"I definitely got the final touch," said the central defender. "But he can have the goal if he wants it!"

It was a blow to Stanley who should have had the game sewn up. But another half-time team talk by the management did the trick as it was all Stanley after the interval.

Hollis had a shot deflected and Prendergast's follow-up effort was saved by Duke just after the restart. Mullin then played a great ball into the box but the defender got there with Durnin waiting to pounce just behind him.

Prendergast put in a number of good crosses from the left wing but no-one was there to get on the end of them. So the winger tried his luck from 30 yards out, the shot was fumbled by Duke but the Albion goalkeeper recovered to save the follow-up from Mullin.

Then Hollis worked his magic on the free-kick to give the home side the advantage. Sub Gordon Armstrong then tried to test Duke from 20 yards out but blasted the ball wide while, at the other end, Jon Kennedy pulled off a superb two-handed save from Talbot. It was pin-ball in Stanley's area near the end as Burton pressed for what would have been an undeserved equaliser before Lutel James made it safe.

The former Bury man was judged to have been fouled in the area by Terry Henshaw in the final minute. He dusted himself down to take the spot-kick but blasted it well over the bar. The referee, however, ordered a retake for encroachment and this time James sent the spot-kick to the left of the keeper who dived the wrong way. "I was glad I got a second chance," joked James, who now has five goals for the season.

Coleman was happy to make it three wins on the trot and see Stanley sitting in seventh place but he felt his side could have made it just a bit more comfortable for him on the bench.

"I thought we could have won by more," said the Reds manager. "We has three good chances in the first half and then we let them back into it and conceded a sloppy goal. Steve Halford said he got the final touch but other than that, he did well. He is just perhaps lacking a bit of sharpness.

"Burton didn't really trouble us in the second half, they had one or two chances as we were getting nervous but we missed four good chances. And, on another day, Paul Mullin could have had four goals.

"I actually rate their keeper. I think one of the reasons they didn't do that well last season was because Duke missed a large part of the season through injury. Steve's free kick just skidded under his body but I was pleased for Steve."

Coleman thought James had missed his chance following his first penalty.

"I thought Lutel wouldn't get the chance to retake the penalty as the assistant referee didn't appear to flag immediately. It was only when I turned around for the goalkick that I saw Lutel lining up to take it again. I think you will see a lot of retaken penalties this season as the referees have been told to watch out for technicalities.

"Lutel might not admit it but I think he is a real threat out wide. The defence don't know how to pick him up and he runs at them and causes problems."

What was also a relief for Stanley was to keep 11 men on the pitch.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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Garth Dawson
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