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Accrington Stanley 3 Tamworth 0

LUTEL James has never hid his wish to return to his regular role up front.

LUTEL James has never hid his wish to return to his regular role up front.

And given the chance the striker showed how much he relished it, giving Stanley an important early lead against struggling Tamworth.

James has been a regular on the right wing this season but it was new loan signing Lee McEvilly from Rochdale who was put into that slot for his debut as James joined Paul Mullin up front.

"When I saw the team-sheet and knew I was playing up front I was buzzing, I couldn't wait to get out there," said James. "I tell John (Coleman) before and after every game that I want to be back up front.

"I am not someone who likes running up and down the wing and getting stuck in, I feel like half the player I am when I am out of position.

"I like being up front and doing the sharp stuff and creating chances for me and Paul.

"I would like to think that if I had been up front I would have more goals - and so would Paul as it is easier for defenders to mark one man than two. But I know it is a team game and that is fair enough but sometimes you have got to be selfish - and it was good to score!"

"Lutel has been champing at the bit to get back up front and we thought it would give us a different dimension if we played Lee on the right," said boss John Coleman.

"We wanted Lee to get on the end of Rory's crosses but, as it was, Rory didn't get a lot of the ball.

"The 4-4-2 took a bit of strength from midfield because we lost the extra man but Flickers and Procky closed down well - it was just the quality of the ball which wasn't good.

"I do think we didn't keep the ball well enough and gave it away too often but with a 3-0 win and a clean sheet you can't complain. I just know we can play better than that."

James' goal - his 15th of the campaign - came in the fifth minute when McEvilly was straight in the action, setting up Paul Howarth who drilled a ball in and it was flicked into the net by James from close range.

And, by 12 minutes, it was 2-0 when this time Prendergast broke on the left wing and Mullin came charging in to slide the ball into the net.

But it wasn't all one-way traffic with Jon Kennedy having to be at his best to deny Mark Cooper from a 25-yard free kick. And former Burnley striker Paul Barnes came close with a blistering 18-yard drive which Kennedy touched onto the crossbar and it went out for a corner.

Mullin could have increased his tally but Lambs keeper Richard Brush got down well to save his effort while Prendergast fired across the goal and wide from a Mullin flick on.

Stanley were forced to change their keeper at half time as Kennedy injured his ankle while coming out for a cross but, fortunately for the Reds, Jamie Speare carried on where Kennedy had left off.

He had to dive low to deny the lively Barnes and then one-handedly touch over another Cooper free kick.

But Mullin could have made it safe on the hour when keeper Brush scuffed a clearance and it fell to the waiting Mullin on the edge of the area but Brush scrambed back to save his effort.

Tamworth forced a succession of corners as Stanley took their foot off the pedal.

But they couldn't get passed the Reds' rearguard and the visitors then suffered a set-back when sub Brett Darby was stretchered off on 84 minutes after injuring his ankle trying to get a cross in. It was feared it was broken but initial reports said not.

However, it was Stanley who were suffering next when skipper Peter Cavanagh was sent off for a second bookable offence three minutes from time - their tenth dismissal of the season and Cavanagh's third.

"We don't seem able to put a challenge in nowadays without one of our players getting booked," said a disgruntled Coleman. "It's disapointing."

But there was still time for number three in the six minutes of injury time.

Andy Procter did all the hard work, racing into the area and taking out the goalkeeper but, with Mullin rushing in, he got the final touch into the empty net - much to the agony of Procter.

But, it makes it 20 for the season for the Stanley sharp-shooter in the league and FA Cup and FA Trophy although he says 23 thanks to his hat-trick in the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy.

"Paul's a goalscorer so it is better that he scored," said Coleman although Procter's face at the end said it wasn't!

"Procky has done well to get into that position but, as a team I felt we gave the ball away far too easily and against better teams, with no disrespect to Tamworth who have injuries of their own, we will get punished.

"We could have made it a lot easier for ourselves as it became important that we got the third goal.

"We have got to be brighter in and around their half and, at the back, we have not to panic so much.

"There were times when we could play it out and we lashed at it and then times when we should have cleared it quickly but have been caught in possession.

"I am pleased with the result - but I am the type of manager who is not kidded by results.

"I believe form always comes through at the end and how we play is a reflection on what we get out of the game. We know we can play better - and it is important we do."

But he did have a smile at Speare's late trickery as the keeper juggled the ball on his legs and head outside his area as he strove to clear an attack - much to the amusement of the fans.

"It was a bit eccentric that!" smiled the boss. "It was brilliant!

"Both both Jon and Jamie made some excellent saves."

MAN OF THE MATCH: Striker Paul Mullin with two vital goals - he is proving a handful for all the Conference defences


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