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Forest Green 2 Accrington Stanley 1

STANLEY winger Rory Prendergast was furious he was denied a last gasp penalty which would have given Accrington a share of the spoils at Forest Green.

STANLEY winger Rory Prendergast was furious he was denied a last gasp penalty which would have given Accrington a share of the spoils at Forest Green.

The 24-year-old felt he should have been given a spot kick in injury time after being felled in the area - instead he was booked for diving. "It was a definite penalty. I couldn't believe it wasn't given," said the former Bradford Park Avenue man.

And boss John Coleman agreed with him. "It was a stonewall penalty. I know Rory and he is an honest lad, he wouldn't dive. I think the referee used it as a cop out, I think he took the easy option as it was so late on. But for me,we should have had it."

In fairness the Reds were let down with their first half show. Coleman went for two out and out wingers in Dean Calcutt and Prendergast but both their threats were snuffed out by some tight marking.

Coleman changed things around at the back giving Steve Halford his first start of the season but he was soon back on the bench after Forest Green, without a win prior to the game, opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

Neil Grayson flicked on a cross and Steve Cowe nipped in front of Halford to fire the ball home.

"I decided to put on Jonathan Smith as I thought he would cope with the aerial threat better and I think he did," said the boss.

The Reds didn't have their first real chance until the 31st minute when a Calcutt cross was headed over by Lutel James.

Stanley were starting to find their feet but were hit by the second goal on 40 minutes. Gary Owers - a former team-mate of Gordon Armstrong's at Sunderland - got the ball on the edge of the area and curled the shot into Jon Kennedy's far post.

Coleman gave his team a good talking to at half time and Stanley came out battling. Within four minutes, Steve Hollis lashed the ball against the upright from a free kick.

And the Reds got one back when Prendergast, now finding more time and space, fired in a perfect cross and, with James and Steve Jenkins rushing in, the defender got a touch and the ball rolled into the net on 57 minutes.

Stanley had their chances after that, Andy Procter's 18 yard effort was just wide while Prendergast had a blistering strike saved by keeper Steve Perrin but they ran out of time.

"We started off sluggish but we more positive in the second half," said Coleman. "We were on top when they scored their second and after that, if it had been a boxing match, the referee would have had it stopped. I told the players at half time to believe in themselves a lot more and in the second half they did. Now we need more of that."

His Forest Green counterpart Coin Addison had nothing but praise for Stanley.

"It was a hard game for us as we expected. We scrapped for the win against a good side. It wasn't our best performance but it was a gritty one.

"Paul Mullin and Lutel James are two great players and we knew they would take us the distance. They won the UniBond League in style and I knew we would have to battle.

"We could do nothing about Prendergast's cross - it was a great ball in - but I am just pleased we have got our first win under our belts."


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