Mark Hughes, on loan from Bury, is determined to leave Stanley with League Two status assured
Mark Hughes had a smile on his face when he came to Accrington Stanley – and aims to have one when he leaves.
The former Everton trainee walked into the Stanley dressing room on loan from Bury last Friday knowing plenty of the Reds squad.
And the 26-year-old transfer deadline day signing aims to walk out at the end of his loan spell in April with Stanley’s League Two status intact.
Despite his debut being in the 3-0 defeat at Port Vale on Saturday, the defender is positive the Reds can jump clear of the bottom spots.
“I had no hesitation in coming here,” said Hughes, who was twice a target of former Stanley boss John Coleman.
“I had been playing at Bury but the manager’s decision was to change it and it looks like it paid off as Bury won on Saturday!
“But Leam Richardson said he wanted me to come here and play some games and I want to play games – I do not want to sit on the bench.
“I know a lot of the lads –I know Lawrie (Wilson) and Lee (Molyneux) from Everton and Beats (James Beattie).
“Peter Murphy lives around the corner from me and me and Bavs (Ian Dunbavin) have done some coaching together. I used to pick him up and I was glad to see the back of him but he has been giving me earache already!
“But Accrington is a funny club as I had been here two days by Saturday and it felt like two years as everyone makes you feel so welcome.”
Despite his relatively short stay so far, Hughes has seen enough in the Reds line-up to be confident that they will not be facing non-league football next season.
Charlie Barnett’s fourth-minute sending off virtually put paid to any hope of pulling off a shock at the title-chasing Valiants but Hughes did put in a strong performance at the heart of the Reds defence until the one-man advantage eventually told.
“We came here with a game plan and it went out of the window after four minutes when we were down to 10 men. If you are to win there, you need 11.
“The ref couldn’t wait to get the red card out but we battled well after that.
“We said at half-time that we needed to try and stay firm in the first 10 minutes of the second half but then they scored and we have to push to try and get a goal back and then we conceded a couple of sloppy goals.
“It was always going to be tough against the top of the league but we have to try and take the positives.
“We kept going and I don’t think our goalie was bombarded with shots but that first goal killed us and you could see that perhaps some the younger lads, their heads dropped.
“But I am big on belief and you have got to keep your belief and I know there is enough here to be safe. I have been here before and you feel like everything is going against you – like it did on Saturday – but the lads need to believe they are good players.”
Hughes is hoping the Stanley side can turn on the style against another of the promotion chasers – Southend at the Store First Stadium on Saturday – and keep 11 men on the pitch.
“Home form is a big thing, you have got to win your home games and that starts this weekend,” said the centre half.
“We have to roll up our sleeves, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves and we have got to stand up and be counted.
“We can get out of it with the quality we have got here and we have to keep believing and, if we can get it right in both boxes, I know it’s a cliche but we will be ok.
“I believe we can get away from the bottom, it’s in our hands and I am sure there will be no problems.”