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Pre-season: Accrington Stanley 2 Rochdale 0

ACCRINGTON Stanley certainly saved the best for last in their pre-season clash with Coca Cola League Two side Rochdale.

ON TRIAL . . Former Bury, Blackpool and Huddersfield defender Ian Hughes
ON TRIAL . . Former Bury, Blackpool and Huddersfield defender Ian Hughes

ACCRINGTON Stanley certainly saved the best for last in their pre-season clash with Coca Cola League Two side Rochdale.

Fans were treated to a quality goal by trialist and Accrington lad Eddie O'Neill - brother of Burnley's Matt - to open the scoring eight minutes from time.

Then an audicious Paul Cook volley from almost the half way line looked destined to creep into the top corner of the net for an early contender for goal of the season before Neil Edwards produced a wonder save. And then defender Steve Halford was overjoyed when he volleyed home three minutes from time to wrap things up for Stanley.

The game did end sourly with a scuffle between Jonathan Smith and Dale's Greg Heald but both shook hands after and all in all it was a job well done by the Reds.

Up until that point there were a couple of chances on either side but the game wasn't a classic.

Again, there were a number of trialists on show. Defender Ian Hughes and keeper Danny Alcock started their seconds games in Stanley colours. And, in the first half, ex-Barnsley striker Griff Jones played up front alongside former Dale frontman Lee McEvilly with ex-Rossendale player Blake Naughton on the left wing.

In the second half, there was the usual melee of substitutions with ex-Hull right winger O'Neill playing his part alongside former Wigan trainee Chris Lynch on the left wing and James Locke at left back.

Coleman admitted that he would take another look at the trialists.

"The second half was better than the first as, in the first half, we were a little bit on the back foot and defended a lot. We played too deep and I didn't see the best of the trailists but they will have other chances.

"In the second half, we encouraged the players to have more life about them in the last third and to be honest, that is what they did. We had the lions share of the play and scored two really good goals.

"Eddie's was a great finish. He was busy all game and could have done a little bit more with the ball but that will come as he settles in and at this stage, trailists are wary about making mistakes.

"Hacker will always get goals as he attacks the ball well. And Paul Cook will always try and do things to affect the game. It would have been a great goal."

Chances were limited in the first half with one of the most amusing incidents the loud, good-humoured banter between McEvilly and his former team-mate defender Wayne Evans.

Dale's new signing Paul Tait had a couple of efforts while McEvilly wanted to get a goal against his old club but blasted Steve Jagielka's indirect free kick well over the bar. But both sides cancelled each other out and Stanley's frontmen struggled to get to the ball.

In the second half, the Reds made nine changes with only Halford and Alcock playing the full game. And the match immediately opened up with Cook dominating the midfield.

Paul Mullin and Damien Hindle caused a few problems up front while trialist Chris Lynch was lively on the left wing and didn't mind having a shot at goal.

The game went from end to end as Dale also made five changes. One of them Jamie Baguley could have broke the deadlock on 55 minutes after racing past the Stanley defence but his shot was straight at Alcock.

Gary Jones fired across the goal and wide for Steve Parkin's side while Cook's volley was saved by Edwards and although Mullin eventually poked the ball home, it was ruled off side.

Then, eight minutes from time, Mullin flicked the ball to O'Neill in front of the defence and he fired the ball over Edwards from eight yards out.

And Cook - looking for his second in two games - then spotted the keeper off his line, tried a lob five yards inside the Rochdale half but Edwards did well to turn it over. But Stanley got their second when a Lynch corner to the near post was volleyed home by Halford, much to his delight.

The Smith-Heald battle followed but by the end it it was cleared up.

"Things like that happen in football," said Coleman. "I am just glad no one reacted and it didn't start a brawl. The two shook hands at the end and there is no problem."


Stuart Pike
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