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Accrington Stanley 4 Forest Green 1

GED BRANNAN made no secret of the fact he was desperate for a goal to open his Stanley account.

IN THE NET... Ged Brannan scored his first goal for Stanley against Forest Green on Saturday.
IN THE NET... Ged Brannan scored his first goal for Stanley against Forest Green on Saturday.

GED BRANNAN made no secret of the fact he was desperate for a goal to open his Stanley account.

The former Manchester City and Wigan midfielder had been disappointed after failing to make his mark on goal since he arrived in Accrington since November.

But once he slotted home the opener against Forest Green on Saturday, his and his team-mates confidence visibly grew as the Reds refused to slip to a fifth consecutive defeat - and condemn John Coleman to what would have been his worst run while in charge at the Interlink.

As soon as the fans celebrated Brannan's opener on 40 minutes, they were then cheering Paul Mullin's goal four minutes later to make it 2-0 at the break.

It seemed a long time since Stanley had been so comfortable and harked back to earlier in the season when the Reds seemed unstoppable as they went on their 14-game unbeaten run.

Coleman, the players and the fans had been at a loss in recent games but suddenly everything just came together.

And Mullin and veteran frontman John Durnin added further strikes before Green grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot.

As Coleman admitted, the scoreline was harsh on Rovers with keeper Jamie Speare having to be on top of his game to keep them out.

But, at the other end, Green's Steve Perrin was also outstanding as his finger-tips denied Brannan a second and Mullin a well-deserved hat-trick.

"Their keeper made some world class saves," said a relieved Coleman. "And Jamie was solid - except for that one excursion where he bought a ticket for outside the box!"

"But the scoreline flattered us - they had plenty of shots and chances - probably more than anyone had had against us this season in one game."

And while he was pleased for Mullin - with 21 league goals, three cup goals and five Trophy goals this season - he was more pleased with Durnin's strike.

The 38-year-old had only been on the pitch three minutes when he beat the off-side trap - although Perrin disagreed - and slotted the ball home.

"I had had a £2 bet with Gordon Armstrong at 10-1 that John would get on and score so I was praying he did," joked the Reds chief.

The win was a huge relief to everyone connected with the club as they went into the game on the back of four successive losses.

The pressure was on Stanley but Green also needed a win after conceding four against Morecambe the week before.

It did seem Mullin had opened the scoring with a fierce header on six minutes but Perrin's point blank save denied him.

Then, at the other end, Speare had to finger-tip over an Ian Fitzpatrick drive.

The Reds felt they should have had a penalty when Mullin was grounded following a tackle by Searle but nothing was given on 38 minutes.

However two minutes later, Brannan pounced on a defensive mix-up and nicked the ball to slot home his first for the club.

Four minutes later and Mullin headed home a Prendergast cross at the near post and suddenly the jitters had gone.

It could have been more but, to be fair to Green, they never stopped pressing and their long range efforts caused problems in the Reds defence.

However, Brannan came so close to doubling his tally when his 18-yard volley seemed destined for the top corner of the net until more Perrin heroics.

"That would have been a contender for goal of the season," said Coleman. "It was an unbelievable save."

However, from the resulting corner, Paul Cook's ball in was met by Mullin who celebrated the third.

And he the striker turned provider, sending through Durnin who took the ball past Perrin and tucked it home.

Cook fired wide and Mullin had two efforts - one, a volley, superbly pushed away by Perrin.

Then, on 81 minutes, Peter Cavanagh brought down Hugh McAuley in the area and Searle scored the penalty, despite Speare guessing the right way

"I think Cav's tackle was a tired mind rather than a tired body," said Coleman. "It was disappointing not to get the clean sheet but great to win."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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