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Farnborough Town 1 Accrington Stanley 1

LEE McEvilly was Accrington Stanley's hero as he needed just two minutes on the pitch to equalise against relegation-threatened Farnborough.

JOHN Coleman has made his disappointment known about some referees in the past. But he felt Saturday's man in the middle Mike Russell was spot on when he didn't give a penalty afterstriker Lutel James raced through but was brought down from behind by Anthony Charles.

It did look from a distance like Charles had got the ball and Coleman was in full agreement. However the Stanley players were adamant it was a spot-kick and one of the Farnborough players admitted after the game that he thought it should have been given.

Instead the Reds had to settle for a draw against the relegation-threatened side - and had to be thankful for some brave defending at the end as Boro came close to grabbing all three points.

Earlier in the season, Stanley would have played Boro off the park and nothing short of a win would have been expected. However, the Reds are going through a sticky patch with one win in their last eight Conference games and so at least a draw meant Stanley can look on the bright side.

"If we are being ultra positive we are unbeaten in three games or lost one in five," said Coleman, whose side have drawn their last three league games. But we need to start winning games before the season runs out.

"The lads are frustrated as they know they can play better and I think they feel things are conspiring against them. We were lack lustre in the first half but we had a go in the second half. I did think we looked tired. We prepared correctly but I think the season is catching up on us.

"The game was too stretched for both sides as both had numerous chances to score. We applied ourselves defensivley but the game got too stretched and we got a little bit exposed. We got a goal in the second half and one another day we might have gone on to win it but I am sure Farnborough will feel the same."

The goal came after Coleman was forced to make a change bringing on Lee McEvilly on the right for the ill Andy Gouck. This meant Lutel James pushed up front along side Paul Mullin.

And, within two minutes of the restart, Mullin had sent loan man McEvilly racing down the right side and he cut into the box and fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net for his second Stanley goal.

"It is nice when things like that come off," continued Coleman. "It was good for Lee to get his goal, it was well-taken and he is a handful for anybody. I want to get him into the side but it is difficult as who do you dislodge?

"But we had a few players who were a handful. Lutel worked really hard and showed a good appetite for the game, especially as he worked back defensively."

All the Stanley fans were hoping for a resounding victory to keep the hopes of a play-off spot going. However, the bottom clubs are scrapping for their lives and, in a weekend of strange Conference results, it was no surprise that Boro gave the Reds a tough match.

There was plenty of half chances in the opening 40 minutes. Howard Forinton had a low shot saved by Jon Kennedy while, at the other end, Mark Osborn got there first ahead of Rory Prendergast who was charging in after a Darran Kempson's long throw. Richard Hodgson tried his luck from 22 yards but Kennedy was there while Andy Procter headed straight at Osborn at the other end.

Dennis Oli probably had the best of the early efforts on 22 minutes when his shot whisked across the face of goal and wide. But Gouck would not be outdone and he volleyed from 20 yards just after but Osborn got down low to save it.

Dangerman Forinton then came close as Kennedy had to claw out his header which seemed to be heading for the top corner of the net before Farnborough broke the deadlock. It was a good build up when Fiston Manuella found Paul Harkness to the left of the area and he blasted the ball into the net.

Then came McEvilly's introduction and, as soon as he got Stanley back on level terms, they went on the hunt for the winner. Rory Prendergast was a threat on the left and, despite being caught off-sides numerous times in the first half, he continued to put in dangerous crosses which Stanley just failed to convert.

Mullin had an effort saved by Osborn at the near post on 52 minutes while Paul Cook's ball found James in space but his shot was easy for the Boro keeper. And Steve Halford headed a Cook cross just wide moments later.

The game was stop-start as the referee seemed to blow for everything and both sides struggled to get going. But, after a double substitution by boss Vic Searle, Issufo broke forward on 71 minutes and Kennedy tried to smother his right foot effort before the ball came out to Billy Beall whose 20-yard strike was cleared off the line by Peter Cavanagh.

Then came the penalty appeal as James raced forward before Charles' last ditch tackle. There were more half chances as both sides looked for the all-important winner but in the end neither side could make the breakthrough.

"A draw was not good for either side," added Coleman. "We both tried to take the game to each other. Rory was a threat all day and, on another day, someone might have got on the end of his crosses."

Searle said: "I thought we were the better team and if we had taken our chances we would have won. I can't really fault the performance though."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist