LEE McEvilly is ready for his new challenge at Accrington Stanley.
The 22-year-old Northern Ireland international signed on a one-month loan deal from Third Division Rochdale on Monday and went straight into the starting line-up for the 3-0 win over Tamworth on Tuesday. Lutel James has called him his "new best mate" as McEvilly took over in the right wing slot with James moving back into his favoured place up front. But McEvilly admitted he didn't mind it.
"I was playing out of position but it was okay," said the former Burscough forward who Stanley had tried to sign before he moved to Rochdale for £20,000 in December 2001. "I know quite a few of the Accrington players like Peter Cavanagh and Ged Brannan and there are bags of Scousers here! But I just want to play as many games as possible and see what happens. I just love playing football. I haven't got a goals target, I am just looking forward to a new challenge."
McEvilly, who will train with Rochdale on Mondays and Fridays, scored 29 goals in the UniBond Premier Division for Burscough. "And that was by Christmas as I then signed for Rochdale," he said.
He made a big impression at Spotland, playing two games for Northern Ireland and he scored 16 goals last season. But, with a succession of managers, he has struggled to hit those highs this season. "I have had five managers in the two years I have been there and it has been hard. It has been up and down really.
"When I knew Accrington wanted to take me on loan I wanted to come here and play. I have never played in the Conference but, from what I have seen, it is no different to Division Three. I am out of contract at the end of the season so I will just have to see what happens."
And McEvilly is likely to feature in Saturday's game at Burton where the Reds want revenge after being knocked out of the FA Trophy by them just a couple of weeks ago. "I always want revenge," said striker Lutel James. "I hate losing so I always want to win and score - and I'm hoping I stay up front!"
"I thought Lee did well on Tuesday on the right," said boss John Coleman, who has been chasing the frontman for two years - Stanley made a £10,000 bid for McEvilly when he was at Burscough. "He is a powerful player and he makes defences uncomfortable. I think he did well defensively and provided good cover for Paul Howarth. He wasn't perhaps as eye-catching up front but he will contribute going forward in the future.
"I know Lutel enjoys playing up front but it does depend on our pattern of play and what I think is best on the day - that goes for the whole team."
There is something of a crisis at Stanley with injuries and suspensions. This was made worse by Peter Cavanagh becoming the tenth Stanley dismissal of the season - and his third sending off.
"I am going to ring the Football Association about that. He got a second booking for kicking the ball away but there was just 0.46 of second between the whistle going and Cav kicking the ball away. We have got to try and appeal."
The captain can play tomorrow but Steve Halford begins a lengthy suspension after two dismissals while Paul Cook is also suspended after five bookings - although he is injured. Andy Gouck is a week away with a gashed knee but Ged Brannan and Gordon Armstrong are likely to be back.
"It is not a case of wanting revenge against Burton, it is a case of picking three points up against whoever we play," continued the Reds boss. "But we will remember how bad we felt just a couple of weeks ago getting knocked out of the Trophy by them. No matter what we do though we never seem to go any higher than seventh! But if we go on a good run then the play-offs are in sight."
He is still after a defender but the Second Division player he was chasing is now playing again and the deal looks like it is off. "I am looking around as next week we may only have one recognised central defender in Jonathan Smith with suspensions so we're desperate to bring someone in."
- STANLEY lost 3-1 to Radcliffe Borough on Wednesday in a quickly arranged friendly. Dean Calcutt scored for the Reds.
- STANLEY face UniBond First Division promotion chasers Bamber Bridge in the last eight of the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy on Tuesday (ko 7.45pm). In 2002, the two sides were battling it out in the UniBond Premier Division but while Stanley have gone upwards, Bridge suffered relegation.