ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman is furious that his side might be labelled as "thugs" because of their poor disciplinary record.
The Reds picked up six bookings in Saturday's 2-1 loss at Stevenage and face a fine of £1,000 for that. In total, Stanley have had six players dismissed this season and have been shown 56 yellow cards - which includes Dean Calcutt, Peter Cavanagh, Steve Halford and Andy Procter who were all shown two yellow cards in one match when they were sent off.
Coleman admitted the disciplinary record is a big worry - but feels his team have been unlucky with some of the yellow cards.
"I don't think any of the bookings have been malicious but we need to sort it out. Some of them, the tackles, are unavoidable but some of them are silly," said the Reds boss. "We had a good chat about it after the Stevenage game. Perhaps it is a bit of a culture shock - perhaps we are not getting away with things like we did in the UniBond League but it has got to stop."
The Stevenage game brought it to the fore with the Reds even having Justin Jackson and Andy Gouck booked while they sat in the dug-out - Jackson for complaining about a decision and Gouck for squirting water. Coleman was angry that his players were so harshly punished in a game which did become niggly but never over-spilled.
"There was never six bookings in that game," said the boss. "It makes out we are a team of thugs but we got two lads booked when they were in the dug-out. Now we have three of the back four missing for the Barnet game as they have chalked up five bookings. We have appealed and sent a video to the referee but this can't continue."
Robbie Williams, Peter Cavanagh and Steve Hollis all picked up bookings and will miss the Bees clash a week tomorrow if the appeal fails. The Reds chief, though, is hopeful he will be talking about eighth-placed Stanley's goals rather than cards when his side welcome Telford, just below them, to the Interlink Express Stadium on Saturday. And then they face new league leaders Chester at the Deva Stadium on Tuesday.
Stanley are likely to be without Rory Prendergast for both games. He suffered concussion in the eighth minute of last Saturday's loss, was taken to hospital but managed to make the coach back.
"The doctors have advised us that he shouldn't play for a week," said Coleman.
Defender Steve Halford is struggling with a foot injury although he would love to be fit to face his former club Chester. Halford left the Deva Stadium soon after manager Mark Wright arrived
"He wanted his own players," said Halford. "I wanted to be released from my contract but Mark initially wouldn't let me and I spent two weeks running round the pitch from 9am-5pm on my own. Eventually the chairman Steve Vaughan released me and I came to Accrington."
Striker Justin Jackson also has a slight groin strain ahead of Saturday's clash.
"Our home form has been good this season so hopefully it will continue against Telford," continued Coleman. "I am expecting big things off the players. I have had Chester watched two or three times. They are a good side who don't concede goals so we have got to make sure we don't give them one as it will be difficult to get back into it."
The boss had a good look at his full squad in Tuesday night's hastily arranged friendly with UniBond side Prescot Cables which Stanley lost 3-1.
"I don't like losing any games but I made about 12 changes," continued the manager. "John Durnin, Steve Flitcroft and Lee Madin all impressed me and they have given me something to think about which is what I wanted."