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FA Cup Second Round: Bournemouth 1 Accrington Stanley 1

WITH odds of 66-1 defender Steve Halford could have made someone rich if the opening FA Cup goal had been officially his.

WITH odds of 66-1 defender Steve Halford could have made someone rich if the opening FA Cup goal had been officially his.

The announcer at Bournemouth was quick to give it to Hacker despite everyone from Accrington knowing that Paul Mullin had scored the goal which gave the Conference team a shock early lead against the Second Division side. Mullin had clearly headed home Rory Prendergast's corner in the ninth minute - but crowd favourite Halford would have taken it.

"I didn't hear the announcer but someone said it had been given to me," said the defender, who was first to congratulate Mullin after the goal. "So I decided to wind Mullers up at half-time and tell him I was claiming it. I wish I had at 66-1 although I would never have put a bet on myself - that money is safer in my pocket! I wish it was my goal though!"

The national press would have loved it if the forklift truck driver from Bury had scored - but Mullin admitted he was gob-smacked that his team-mate - and room-mate - had been credited with the vital goal.

"I only heard at half-time that Hacker was claiming it. I couldn't believe it. It was definitely mine - it was a clear header!" laughed the 29-year-old who took his tally to 14 goals for the season.

If only that had been the winner to continue Stanley's Cup fairytale. But instead the Second Division promotion-chasers were always a threat and Marcus Browning curled home the equaliser after the break. And then there was some testing times for the 500 nail-biting Stanley fans as the Cherries hit the crossbar through Steve Purches and Jamie Speare pulled off a stunning save to deny Brian Stock whose effort was pushed onto the post and out.

"We needed those fans in the last few minutes," admitted Mullin. "In the second half, there was some cramp creeping in and we were tiring. But the fans made a racket in the final 20 minutes to keep us going - and they deserve a lot of credit for that!"

There was high expectations that Stanley could pull off their second shock of the FA Cup after disposing of Huddersfield in the first round. Terriers hero Andy Gouck got the nod in midfield to replace the cup-tied Ged Brannan while Paul Cook recovered from a groin injury. But things looked bleak for the Reds when centre back Jonathan Smith hobbled off after picking up a knee injury while stopping Steve Fletcher charging through on seven minutes.

It forced Stanley to reshuffle with Peter Cavanagh going into the left back role, Robbie Williams and Halford occupying the central slots and Paul Howarth coming on as right back.

"I had to reshuffle the back four but they were all magnificent," enthused boss John Coleman.

The Reds had the first shot on target thanks to Prendergast on five minutes and he did the same a few minutes later to force a corner. The left winger took it and there was Mullin at the near post to head home - and send the travelling support wild.

"We had worked on it in training and Jonathan Smith was meant to be there but he had gone off injured so I looked at Coley and he told me to go there," said Mullin. "It didn't work in training but fortunately it did in the game!"

It was a dream start but left Stanley with a lot of time to hang on especially as tricky right winger Wade Elliott was always a threat for Bournemouth and tall striker Steve Fletcher was strong.

"I have never seen anyone with arms so big!" said Halford. "But I don't think I did too badly against him. I have played against him before with Bury so I knew what to expect."

Fletcher had a 16th minute effort from a Stock corner saved by Speare while the Stanley shot-stopper had to rush to the edge of the area to deny Warren Feeney. He also had to push out a Browning long-range effort while Elliott just failed to get a touch to Feeney's far post cross. There was some relief for Stanley when Gouck tried his luck from 18 yards out just before the break but there was no repeat of the first round heroics.

After the break Bournemouth went all out for the equaliser. Skipper Carl Fletcher headed just wide, Browning had an effort blocked and there were several balls which had to be scrambled away by the Stanley back line. If the Reds had weathered the first 20 minutes of the second half, Bournemouth might have got nervous but instead, 11 minutes after the restart, they were on level terms. Warren Cummings set up Browning on the edge of the area and his curling shot was just beyond the diving arms of Speare.

Coleman tried to tighten up at the back by throwing on Gordon Armstrong, a former FA Cup finalist, but it didn't halt Bournemouth who were obviously keen to settle the tie there and then. Purches tried his luck with a looping effort which came off the crossbar and Howarth cleared the rebound with Garreth O'Connor waiting to pounce.

Stanley's Paul Cook had a 30-yard effort pushed away by Neil Moss while Speare had to keep hold of a Steve Fletcher header - and then the Reds shot-stopper had to push out Stock's goalbound late effort. But at the death Stanley forced two corners where Andy Procter had a shot and Armstrong almost got a foot to a goalmouth cross.

"I was watching through my fingers as it did seem like a horror show at times," joked Coleman. "I always fancied us to score and it was a shame they scored so early after the break as the longer we led, the more nervous they would have become. We were hanging on a bit but we know we can attack better than that - and now hopefully we will show it in the replay."


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