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Leigh 1 Accrington Stanley 2

ANDY Gouck is convinced that if he is allowed to stay on the field longer his goal tally will rocket into double figures.

ANDY Gouck is convinced that if he is allowed to stay on the field longer his goal tally will rocket into double figures.

The midfielder scored the opener against relegation-threatened Leigh to make it five goals for the season - and got his usual "Who let the Gouck out" song from the travelling fans who must have outnumbered the home supporters.

However Gouck knew as soon as it hit the hour mark that he was on his way off.

"I think the board is stuck at '18:12' on 65 minutes! I'm always substituted then with Gordon coming on! I will have to have a word with Coley about it," joked the 31-year-old, who was replaced by number 18 Gordon Armstrong.

But, Gouck isn't too downhearted and is impressed that he is hitting the target with regularity.

"Over the last 10 games, I have got into some good positions and fortunately, the goals are going in. I have always said I have got goals in me and they have turned out to be important ones as well.

"I am hoping to get into double figures but I am coming off earlier and earlier. I know as soon as it hits 65 minutes that I will see '18:12'!"

In truth, the match wasn't a pretty one. The Reds were always comfortable but in the swirling rain and, against a side at the wrong end of the table, it was more of a battle.

"We can't always play pretty football every week," continued Gouck.

"It was hard going and it shows that we have got steel as well. It was difficult as the wind just came from nowhere and it was backs to the wall so we were happy to go in 2-0 at half-time."

With Rory Prendergast and Andy Procter suspended, Steve Flitcroft and Ged Brannan, who had been cup-tied for the FA Cup, came into the starting eleven with Paul Mullin again the lone frontman.

There was little goalmouth action in the first ten minutes.

Flitcroft, Gouck and Lutel James all played good balls into the box in the early stages but they came to nothing.

At the other end, one-time Stanley target Gerry Harrison shot from 30 yards but it was well wide of the target and Wayne Maden's effort was similarly wide.

However Stanley took an important lead on 14 minutes when Peter Cavanagh's cross found Gouck at the far post. Former Bury and Oldham shot-stopper Gary Kelly did well to save his header from six yards out but the ball fell back to Gouck who tapped it home.

And the former Blackpool and Rochdale midfielder had a chance to double his tally minutes later with a blistering shot from 25 yards out but Kelly did well to push away his effort.

Paul Cook had a free kick deflected and then, in the final 20 minutes of the first half, it was the Reds against the wind.

Everytime they tried to clear a ball the wind blew it straight back to the defence.

However, they managed to press right on half time - and Paul Howarth will never score an easier goal than he did in injury time.

Cavanagh's cross from the left evaded a number of legs and heads and it fell nicely for Howarth who was waiting unmarked on the goalline and he just had to tap it over the line.

It is turning into a fantastic month for the right back after scoring his first goal for the Reds against Aldershot, firing home the winning penalty against Bournemouth and now adding to his tally against Leigh.

Stanley always looked comfortable after the break and should have added to the scoreline.

Sub Carl Rezai had an effort from outside the box for Leigh which was just wide while Cavanagh blocked an effort from Leigh's hitman David McNiven.

But then Flitcroft, who had acres of room on the left wing after the break, sent Paul Mullin clean through.

It looked certain that Mullin would score but Kelly came out and saved his low effort on 57 minutes.

Mullin then returned the compliment and sent Flitcroft through with only the keeper to beat while Leigh appealed for off-side on 66 minutes. However, his effort was too easy for the relieved Kelly.

Flitcroft put in another good ball which Steve Halford almost headed in on the goalline while Flitcroft almost got on the scoresheet four minutes from time but his 25-yard effort - which had beaten Kelly - was wide of the upright.

The Leigh keeper then came out to deny Mullin who was rushing to get on the end of a Flitcroft cross - Mullin got his foot to it but Kelly was there again.

And then, on 88 minutes, the Stanley defence left Leigh's top scorer McNiven unmarked in the area to head home his 15th Conference goal of the season.

Stanley were never under threat until that point but it did make it a nervy last couple of minutes although Mullin could again have put the game beyond reach from another Flitcroft cross but fired over the bar.

"We missed some good chances," said boss John Coleman.

"Paul had a couple, Steve Halford had one and Steve Flitcroft had the best chance of the game. Steve did well apart from his finishing! I was disappointed though that they scored at the end.

"We were a little bit sloppy but the conditions made it hard to play in. We got the goal at the right time and on the day we were the better side.

"The wind really got up on the half-hour and it was hard for the lads after a long week - but we have come away with three wins on the spin and a lot of confidence."


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