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Pre-season: Accrington Stanley 1 Burnley 2

ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman praised Lee McEvilly's performance as "awesome" - and the striker's aim is now to continue to star in their Conference campaign.

LEE McEvilly tussles for the ball against Burnley
LEE McEvilly tussles for the ball against Burnley

ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman praised Lee McEvilly's performance as "awesome" - and the striker's aim is now to continue to star in their Conference campaign.

The former Rochdale man, who signed permanently for the Reds in the summer, made Burnley's new signing John McGreal suffer as he got to most headers ahead of the defender and came close to scoring on a number of occasions in the first pre-season friendly on Saturday.

In the end, the Coca Cola Championship side ran out the winners but Coleman took a lot of positives from his first look at his full-time squad.

"I thought Lee was awesome, he did really well," said Coleman as, in the absence of Paul Mullin, McEvilly started up front along side Lutel James.

And the manager was also full of praise for left back Stuart Howson, a former Blackburn trainee, who made his Stanley debut, playing in the first half and came close to opening his Stanley account.

The 22-year-old belted the ball towards the top corner of the net from 20-yards on the stroke of half time but it took a deflection and Burnley's Danish keeper Brian Jensen had to switch direction and one handedly push it away.

"He was so unlucky with that. If it hadn't taken a deflection I think the goalie would have had to produce an even better save but as it was, it was magnificent - it is one of the best saves we have seen here for some time," said the manager.

And another one who caught the eye was defender Ian Hughes. The 29-year-old former Bury man was released from Huddersfield at the end of last season and he played the full 90 minutes as he hopes to win a contract at the Interlink.

"He looked like he had played with the rest of the team all his life, he did well," added Coleman.

There was some good movement out of defence by Stanley with Lutel James, McEvilly, right winger Steve Jagielka and Peter Cavanagh all linking well together as Stanley created a number of openings.

And the defence - including trialist goalkeepers Danny Alcock and Scott Tynan who swapped round at half-time - also had to be at their best to keep out a strong Burnley front line of Robbie Blake and Ian Moore.

In fact prolific striker Blake could have opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute but, after getting the better of Robbie Williams on the edge of the area, his effort crashed against the crossbar.

Stanley's first shot on target came from Rory Prendergast on 17 minutes but his 20 yard effort was well over the bar - and the left winger was soon replaced as former Preston wideman Paul Carvill was given a run out.

New signing Jagielka tested Jensen with a long range effort while the goalie also had to parry away a low firm shot from the sharp James. And, on 26 minutes, the lively McEvilly beat the off-side trap and Jensen but McGreal rushed back to block his goalbound effort.

Accrington lad Richard Chaplow - made Burnley captain for the game - had a couple of efforts but couldn't find a way through the Stanley defence.

Howson then had his strike before Stanley made a number of changes at the break - including Tynan, Andy Procter and Jonathan Smith, who has handed in his notice at Hyndburn Sports Centre and is going full-time with the Reds.

Steve Cotterill's men finally broke the deadlock when Accrington-born Matty O'Neill's 20-yard shot went through a crowd of players and Moore got his foot to it and put it into the net on 58 minutes with Stanley protesting it was off-side.

McEvilly headed over a Paul Cook corner minutes later before Burnley made it two on 80 minutes. Paul Howarth lost the ball on the left wing, O'Neill played in a cross which Burnley's new player coach Mark Yates - who left Turf Moor in 1992 before returning with Cotterill - fired into the net. But, with nine minutes left, everyone stopped and watched as Cook got on the end of a long ball forward and chipped it over Jensen.

"I hate getting beat," said Coleman. "The lads were flagging at the end and I wanted to go on and get an equaliser! But I was pleased with some of the things we did.

"The work rate was good, we kept our shape quite well considering we made so many changes and we did not let them create a lot of chances. The goalies didn't have a lot to do - there wasn't a lot of chances.

"We were a bit sloppy towards the end. We could do nothing about their first goal but Paul Howarth has held his hand up for the second goal and we have got to learn from that."


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