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Accrington Stanley 4 Leigh RMI 1

LUTEL James and Paul Mullin celebrated getting off the mark - but Rory Prendergast's goal was extra special.

STANLEY 4 - James (42, 45), Mullin (46), Prendergast (71)
LEIGH RMI 1 - McNiven (88)

LUTEL James and Paul Mullin celebrated getting off the mark - but Rory Prendergast's goal was extra special.

The winger dedicated Stanley's goal number four against local rivals Leigh RMI to his grandma who died at the weekend.

"I wasn't going to play at Aldershot because of this and it didn't feel right. I know I didn't do well," said the former Bradford Park Avenue man. "But it was nice to whack the ball home against Leigh - and the goal was for my grandma, she would have liked that."

Sub Prendergast couldn't have got a better chance to help Stanley to their opening Nationwide Conference win. He fired the rebound into the empty net after James had hit the post in the 71st minute.

It denied former Bury man James a hat-trick - but he had already made enough of an impact. The striker had chased a Neil Durkin back header which evaded goalkeeper Stuart Coburn and headed the ball into the empty net on 42 minutes,

It was justice for Stanley who had suffered a similar fate at Aldershot - a defensive mix-up leading to the Shots' opener. And three minutes later pacey frontman James made it two, a long ball out of defence bouncing to him on the near post and he hit the post with his first attempt but made no mistake with his second from six yards out.

The 2-0 half-time scoreline did flatter Stanley who had started slowly against Mark Patterson's side. Leigh, who beat Dagenham and Redbridge in their opening encounter, looked lively and on-loan striker Neil Robinson, from Macclesfield, tested the Reds defence. However, Leigh suffered as their defence was broken up in the 32nd minute. Former Burnley man Gerry Harrison fell awkwardly in the area while jumping for the ball and was stretchered off with a dislocated shoulder and possible fractured collarbone.

James struck soon after before Mullin made it three in four minutes just after the interval. Impressive winger Dean Calcutt found Gordon Armstrong in the area, his shot was blocked but it fell to Mullin 12 yards out and he lashed it home.

"It was good to score," admitted Mullin. "It is always a relief to get off the mark. Me and Lutel have targets of 20 goals each, which is no mean feat in this League, and we are on our way now, And to get the win is great. Looking at the table and seeing zero points is hard but now we have got that. Leigh were a bit unlucky, as, like us on Sunday, at this level mistakes are punished."

The visitors got one back through unmarked David McNiven in the 88th minute. Saying that, Calcutt was unlucky not to add to the tally with an effort blocked on the line and a blistering 20 yarder which skimmed just over.

"This was Dean's best game for four months," enthused boss John Coleman.

"This is why I signed him and he showed his old form. It was like a breath of fresh air seeing him out there. He has got his chance maybe sooner than expected in the team and took it.

"We were nervy at the start but we played some good football in the second half. I never relax but I enjoyed it more when we had a cushion!

"Andy Gouck came on and did well and John Durnin showed some good touches. And then Rory - he scored a good goal. There is a lot of expectation on Rory, the crowd expect him to do something everytime he gets the ball.

"He was out of sorts on Sunday with his grandma dying and he was ill as well. But there is some pressure on him. As his manager, I don't expect him to do something all the time. I just want him to carry on as he is."

Prendergast admitted it is sometimes hard: "I think my name was mentioned 55 times on Sky before we even kicked off! But football is like that - you never know what is going to happen in your career. If I get back into the League that is good but at the moment I am just enjoying myself."

Apart from replacing Prendergast with Calcutt in the starting line-up, the only other change Coleman made was bringing new keeper Jon Kennedy in from the start following Jamie Speare's dismissal against Aldershot.

"Jamie has done really well for five years but never had any realistic competition. Now he has. It was a difficult decision but it is what I want - every player fighting for a place."


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