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Pre-season: Accrington Stanley 1 Stafford Rangers 2

PAUL Mullin got off the mark for the season - but boss John Coleman was struggling to find too many positives in the pre-season clash against Stafford Rangers.

DEBUT... Kenny Irons.
DEBUT... Kenny Irons.

PAUL Mullin got off the mark for the season - but boss John Coleman was struggling to find too many positives in the pre-season clash against Stafford Rangers.

The Conference North side celebrated a hard-earned victory with Coleman once more switching his side around to have a look at trailists.

And two of these were former Burnley and Morecambe goalkeeper Craig Mawson and former Huddersfield and Tranmere midfielder Kenny Irons.

Mawson played the full game, Irons came off at half-time while Joey Roberts, Chris Lynch, Jon Thompson and Paul Forsyth tried to win a Stanley contract after the interval.

And former Bury, Blackpool and Huddersfield defender Ian Hughes started his third pre-season friendly for the Reds.

"We didn't get going in the second half," said the boss, who made 10 changes after the break, with four coming on at half-time.

"We made wholesale changes and sometimes, when you do not do it all at once, it takes time to adjust."

"In the second half we didnt make many chances and we looked flat."

"Craig Mawson is on trial but he didn't have a lot to do. It was a freak goal which beat him in the second half."

Coleman, though, was impressed with the first half line up which saw last season's regular strike partnership Lutel James and Paul Mullin line up for the first time together.

New midfielder Ian Craney was lively, trying his luck from 18 yards after good work from Paul Carvill on the wing.

And former Altrincham player Craney also chipped the ball over the keeper but just over the bar after Rory Prendergast put him through.

A Prendergast corner led to Mullin's opener when the striker headed the ball in at the near post on 32 minutes.

Coleman then made some of his changes but it was Stafford who grabbed the equaliser on 59 minutes.

A Robbie Williams' foul led to a free kick just outside the area which Lee Downes did well to fire into the top corner of the net.

Coleman kept making the changes and, five minutes from time, Nathan Talbot's shot from the edge of the area took a deflection which looped over the head of the back-tracking Mawson.

Trailist Thompson came close to an equaliser at the end after Lee McEvilly worked hard on the left wing but his effort from six yards out went wide.

"The first half was okay," said the boss. "Lutel was exceptional, very bright and worked hard and put them under a lot of pressure."

"Paul got his goal from a good ball in by Rory and that was good but then we didn't get going after the break."

The manager admitted he has been looking at different things and he probably won't have a settled XI this season but instead will make full use his squad.

"I think if you formulated what is your best 11 you are struggling for your squad," said Coleman.

"I am just hoping the best will come to the front when it comes down to picking my team for the first game."

"And what I pick in the first game won't necessarily be what I will pick for the second game. I certainly have got to look at using the squad to the best of its ability to try and get results."

"I don't like losing any game and I will be explaining to the lads that once you drop your standards, it is hard to raise them and hopefully the lads will start the season high and on the front foot rather than the back foot."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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