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Rory roars

A RECORD-BREAKING crowd saw Accrington Stanley step up a gear in their preparations for the Nationwide Conference season.

RORY Prendergast
RORY Prendergast

A record-breaking crowd saw Accrington Stanley step up a gear in their preparations for the Nationwide Conference season.

A total of 3,035 watched the Reds draw 1-1 with First Division Burnley at the Interlink Express Stadium on Wednesday night - and John Coleman's side must have won over some Clarets fans with their battling display.

"The crowd was fantastic and I think we put on a good show," enthused the Reds chief. "We showed we can compete with teams for fitness to the end, despite the fact we are part-time.

"We have got to try and press the game more and put the pressure on from the start but we will work on that in training over the next week and be ready for the first game. I can't wait now."

With the curtain raiser at Aldershot on Sunday 10 August being shown live on Sky television, Coleman will be hoping his side can repeat this performance every game.

They did set off slowly with Burnley star Glen Little showing why he is so highly-rated. But man of the moment Rory Prendergast, who has been a star pre-season for the Reds, came up with a great goal, curling the ball beyond Brian "The Beast" Jensen in the 23rd minute.

"I didn't know much about it," admitted the left winger. "I just saw it go in!"

Coleman said: "It was a fantastic goal, I think it took the keeper by surprise. I was glad to get that as, in the first ten minutes, we were like a boxer on the ropes, hanging on, and if they got one early we could have been hammered.

"You have to stand back and admire some of the things Burnley do. You could see the gulf. But I think we shaded it in the second half."

Ian Moore equalised for Burnley three minutes after Rory's opener and, while the Clarets could have had a couple by this stage, it was all Accrington in the final minutes. Brian Welch slid a Prendergast cross wide, Andy Gouck hit the crossbar and Dean Calcutt missed an open goal in the dying minutes.

The game did sour with Clarets defender Arthur Gnohere receiving a yellow card for a lunge at Lutel James but that didn't dampen Coleman's spirits - nor did the rain.

"It was a great game for the spectators," said the Stanley boss. "Lutel did well but the lads across the back were magnificent. Everyone had a big part to play."

And ex-Clarets Paul Cook and Gordon Armstrong got a good reception from their former team-mates and the crowd.
"It must have been strange for them," said Coleman. "The fitness levels will be different but they are both quality players."

And with Preston last night, where Coleman was going to run the rule over keeper Martin Boswell, Coleman has been happy with the pre season.

"We have played a number of league clubs and have raised our game. Now we have to show we can raise our game week in week out in the Conference."

Accrington continue their preparations when the first team make the trip to UniBond side Harrogate Town tomorrow (3pm) - with both sides battling for the signature of Leeds star David Batty if he drops into the non-League ranks.

Stanley's reserves travel to Padiham tomorrow and a mixed team will face Great Harwood at the Interlink Express Stadium on Monday (7pm).


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