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Accrington Stanley 5 Northwich 0

"COLEY is our king" is the chant back on the Interlink terraces.

LINING UP A SHOT... hat-trick hero McEvilly.

"COLEY is our king" is the chant back on the Interlink terraces.

A couple of weeks ago, the crown had slipped slightly as the Reds boss came under-fire from a minority of fans.

But John Coleman's reign is well and truly back in favour after the 5-0 thumping of Northwich and Stanley's jump into third spot in the table - taking advantage as all their Conference rivals went in search of FA Cup glory.

"Crisis. What crisis? It's a crisis and we are third in the league!" smiled Coleman after his side chalked up the emphatic win, courtesy of a Lee McEvilly hat-trick.

"But it was a relief to win and send the fans home happy. Some of the football we played in the last 10 minutes, when the game was won, was frightening," said the delighted manager.

"It's like having your favourite meal with your pudding after with cream on top - you can enjoy it that much and the only disappointing thing for me was that I was not out there doing it!"

But the Interlink chief is refusing to get too carried away by one victory - although he knows his side are more than capable of pulling off another stunning result at leaders Barnet on Saturday if they perform to the same high standards.

"Every team has a game in hand so it is up to us to step up from there," he said. "If we go to Barnet and get a result it sets us up nicely.

"We are as good as anyone in the Conference and no one will convince me of anything different. We have players to come back and hopefully I will add one or two more, but I have got every belief in the squad.

"The players know they have let themselves down and I am not beyond reproach, I have made a couple of selection mistakes, but having say that we are all on a learning curve and I am trying to do my best."

And their best was certainly good enough at what was initially a tense Interlink. Before the game, no one could contemplate a loss especially after the Reds had failed to win in their previous five games. And, to get beat by Conference strugglers Northwich who - after a 10 point deduction for going into administration - are likely to be embroiled in a relegation battle, would have been a might blow.

But it was Stanley's in-form winger Steve Flitcroft who immediately eased any nerves by dispossessing Dennis Pearce after a poor clearance from keeper Andy Ralph and chipping the ball beyond the helpess, stranded keeper on just two minutes

After recent disappointment, no one dared hope the Reds were going to have it totally their way but Flitcroft then played a big part in putting a smile on his manager and the fans faces by having a hand in number two.

The former Blackburn Rover neatly threaded through a pass to McEvilly which he tucked low into the bottom corner of the net despite the frantic efforts of Pearce to clear the ball off the line. Last week a similar McEvilly effort hit the post and bounced out but this time there was no such worries.

At 2-0 up at half-time, the fans still couldn't take the win for granted as, in September, the Vics battled back from two goals down to draw 3-3.

But Northern Ireland international McEvilly made sure there was no comeback as Flitcroft was once more the provider with this time "Evil" hitting the top corner of the net with a dipping strike.

Ged Brannan - the only other Stanley player to score a hat-trick this season - then got in on the act. The battling midfielder curled a 30-yard wonder strike into the top corner of Ralph's net for the fourth.

But McEvilly made sure he had the final say, pouncing as the defence failed to clear their lines late on to fire home number five - and celebrate his first Conference treble.

Stanley could have had more - through Paul Mullin, Andy Procter and Steve Jagieka while Vics offered little with recalled Danny Alcock having just two shots to save all game.

But goal hero McEvilly, who made sure he got the match ball off the referee, was playing down his part.

"It is a good feeling to score a hat-trick but it is about the team. We had hit a bit of a slump so it was good to get five goals," said McEvilly, who stormed up the Conference goalscoring charts as he now has eight goals for the season.

"Before the game, Coley had said that he could smell goals and told me to go out and see what I could do. I am just pleased it came off.

"I have worked in training with Paul (Mullin) and we do work well together. He is a good target man to play alongside.

"Paul's got eight goals now and I am getting there and I am sure we will keep getting them

"And Lutel is a good, sharp forward too."

Coleman confirmed he felt Saturday would be McEvilly's day. "I said to Lee that he had to go out and be hungry and get goals. I actually said to him I wouldn't be surprised if he got a hat-trick."

And while praising his hit-men, Coleman was also delighted with his defence who kept their second consecutive clean sheet.

"It was also important we didn't switch off. Once or twice I thought they might get in, but the lads have stood firm and defended well. They were always there to make a tackle.

"They have got their own pride to know we have won the game but as a defender it is a feather in their cap to keep a clean sheet."

And Coleman didn't let his midfield go unnoticed.

"If I was to pick a man of the match, it would be Ged Brannan. He was everywhere, they were some great tackles and it was a wonderful goal.

"And it was a great finish from Steven for the first, he was magnificent, while Andy Procter was pushing Ged for man of the match.

"If you count the number of tackles Andy and Ged won in the second half, it will be in the 20s. And that is what our game is all about, winning balls high up in the field, releasing players who have got a bit of quality and we scored some wonderful goals.

"But you have got to give Northwich some credit as, after they went a goal down, they battled well and there was nothing in the game for 35 minutes.

"Then we started to get on top, missed a couple of chances and scored a second goal at a crucial time before half-time. Then we made sure we stepped up our work rate and we were rewarded."

With the Reds boosted going into the Bees game, there are no crisis talks needed.

 

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