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Accrington Stanley 3 Farnborough Town 1

JUSTIN Jackson will know he faces a battle if he wants to seal a place in the Accrington Stanley side.

JUSTIN Jackson will know he faces a battle if he wants to seal a place in the Accrington Stanley side.

Ten games unbeaten, sixth in the league, 25 goals scored and things are looking good at the Interlink Express Stadium. Paul Mullin or Lutel James will not be willing to step aside to let Conference hot shot Jackson, watching from the sidelines, into the team. And Brian Welch, Lee Madin and John Durnin will be keen to keep their places at least on the bench - if not push for a frontline spot.

Which means new signing Jackson, the Conference top scorer with 29 goals when Morecambe finished third in 1999/2000, will have to turn on a similar show to break into the Reds team.

"He will be in the squad for next week and he will provide more competition for places," said boss John Coleman, who snapped up the striker before Saturday's game after the 28-year-old was released from Third Division Doncaster.

"He has not had the best of seasons but hopefully this is a chance for him to resurrect his career. We are hoping he can do for us what he did for Morecambe - he was very successful there."

While Stanley fans will be delighted Coleman is adding more quality to the squad, James and Mullin must be one of the first names on Coleman's team-sheet after Stanley's impressive start to life in the Conference. Their almost telepathic understanding, after scoring 60 goals together in the UniBond Premier League last season, showed itself again on Saturday with just four minutes on the clock.

James was in his now familiar role on the right wing and he played in a great cross and Mullin got in front of his defender and tapped the ball home for number six of the season. It was just the start Stanley needed - but not Farnborough who haven't won this season and lost their manager Tommy Taylor who resigned on Sunday.

After the match, Taylor had indicated he was willing to fight on but by Sunday he had decided enough was enough. They didn't seem a strong side and when Stanley made it two with 14 minutes on the clock, the Reds fans were warming up for a feast of goals.

Rory Prendergast was working his usual magic on the left flank and was fouled on the edge of the area. Paul Cook took a short free kick to Peter Cavanagh and he knew what he was doing as the ball nestled into the far corner of Mark Osborn's goal.

"I am glad Cav picked his spot and decided not to blast it," said Coleman. "We seemed to be coasting then but the lad has hit an acrobatic volley - a great goal - and then we got nervous."

That was Billy Beall who struck home from 25 yards on 18 minutes to give Town some hope. They seemed to build on this and tried to test the Stanley defence with a couple of long-range efforts before the break.

Steve Halford, who kept his place in the centre of defence as Coleman stuck with the same 11 who drew with Halifax midweek, cleared a Michael Moussali ball before it fell to Barrington Belgrave. And Richard Hodgson tried his luck from 30 yards but his shot was over the crossbar.

Stanley should have had something from a handball on the edge of the area just before the break, but nothing was given. Then Town's Pat Sappleton tried to chest the ball back to his keeper from six yards out - and almost found the back of the net but the ball was scrambled away while the Reds appealed for another handball.

Stanley came out pressing after the break, desperately needing another goal to give them some breathing space. Andy Procter raced down the middle to the edge of the area and Osborn had to palm away his swerving shot. Then Prendergast tested Osborn again with a 25 yard free kick which the keeper had to touch over the bar.

But it was the tricky James who finally made the breakthrough when the experienced campaigner Ken Charlery brought him down at the far side of the area.

"Put it this way, I would have gone mad if it was given against me but we haven't been getting others so it is swings and roundabouts," admitted Coleman.

James dusted himself down and although Osborn guessed the right way, the ball was expertly tucked into the goalkeeper's right hand corner. To add to Charlery's misery he was then dismissed two minutes later for a tackle on James - his second bookable offence.

"Lutel tried to keep him on but the referee showed him a second yellow," said the Reds chief. Charlery, however, will now has other things on his mind as he has taken up coaching duties in Taylor's absence.

Ten-man Farnborough did rally and Belgrave got through the Stanley defence but his strike, from eight yards out, was saved by Jon Kennedy. But the three points for the Reds were never really under threat.

"It was a good win, we set out to just to win and then we worry about our performances afterwards," continued the Reds chief.

"We need to tighten up on a few things. At times we were breathtakingly good while at other times we were distinctly averages. We were a bit sloppy in our first half play. We have got this thing at the moment when we are not really defending well in the first half but we are in the second half.

"We have got to get that mentality where we defend well from the word go. It was a good goal from Paul to open the scoring then from Cav and at 2-0 we were coasting. Then they scored and we seemed to get nervous.

"We seemed to have lost the nous to win a game as we haven't won in three, maybe that was at the back of our mind. But if we had just kept it at 2-0 until half time then we could have won more comfortably than we did.

"I know it is ten games unbeaten but I am not concerned about unbeaten runs. I would rather win one and lose one than draw two every time. I am more concerned about getting the points. If we can just keep chipping away, we will look at it after Christmas and might be able to push for a play-off place."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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