ACCRINGTON Stanley may have to follow Bury’s example and bring in a sports psychologist to cure their home woes.
The Shakers stuttered at the start of the season but the introduction of some positive thinking turned their season around.
And manager John Coleman may have to call on the same drastic powers to transform Stanley’s home form before the January transfer window opens when he has threatened to make changes.
The Reds have now lost nine of their 12 home games this season and Wednesday’s was hard to take - beaten by 10-man Lancashire rivals Rochdale who played for 70 minutes with a man down.
“There are two things I hate - losing a two-goal lead which we did against Huddersfield in the FA Cup and losing to ten men and we have done both recently and both have been at home,” said boss Coleman immediately after the final whistle.
“I am bitterly disappointed and I have never felt as upset as I do after a game as I do now.
“I feel like me and Jimmy (Bell) have been personally let down and we have let the fans down.
“I take some of the blame because I haven’t got them up for it enough.
“They (Rochdale) wanted it more than us and that is hard to take.
“The best team won and we were sluggish and have thrown the game away. We were playing against ten men but, give them their due, they rolled their sleeves up.
“They never put us under any pressure and then, suddenly they are 2-1 up, and we haven’t again defended a set play.
“The team who wanted to win the game won it and that’s disappointing to see that from any of my sides and I won’t stand for it.”
Coleman must have believed that the Reds could finally end their home troubles despite a muddy Fraser Eagle pitch with intermittent rain.
And it would have been ideal against their local rivals who they couldn’t beat last season.
The Reds boss opted to stick with the side who drew at Hereford except an injured Roscoe Dsane made way for ex-Dale striker Leighton McGivern.
However, both sides started slowly and neither side threatened in the opening 20 minutes.
Then the game suddenly came to life when ex-Morecambe man Dave Perkins launched a high lunge on Jay Harris.
The pair had been enjoying a midfield battle but the tackle was X-rated and the referee immediately brought out a red card with just 20 minutes gone.
It was the second time Perkins has been sent off against Stanley as he saw red in a Lancashire Cup final and he could have no argument.
And it then seemed to go from bad to worse for Keith Hill’s side who last lost an away fixture on the opening game of the season.
Three minutes after the dismissal, a tackle on the edge of the area left Ian Craney with the chance to score one of his specials.
He duly obliged finding the top corner of the net for the Reds first league goal in more than four hours of football.
Most of the singing Reds’ fans behind the goal would have expected the home side to finally put their dismal FES form behind them and go on and win at a canter - but it wasn’t to be.
Hill changed things around and left Glenn Murray - a one-time Coleman target when he was at Carlisle - on his own up front and they continued to look lively.
The wingers Kallum Higginbotham and Adam Rundle were finding space while Stanley’s wideman of Graham Branch and Leam Richardson were struggling to get forward.
And while McGivern was busy up front for the Reds, he couldn’t find the target with a couple of half chances and it was hoped a half-time blast from Coleman would get his side going.
Instead it was ‘Dale who came out all guns blazing in the driving rain.
And it was left to Paul Mullin - who was forced into spending more time defending than attacking during the 90 minutes - who had to clear a Murray shot off the line on 54 minutes.
It was a warning but it wasn’t heeded and two minutes later the Reds lost the ball from their own free kick.
A long ball was launched forward and nippy teenager Higginbotham got their first. Robbie Williams hesitated and it was what the Dale winger needed as he took the ball past him and slotted it under Ian Dunbavin in the Reds’ goal.
Coleman was furious on the touchline and there was a sense of disbelief as the Reds just couldn’t seem to get going and capitalise on their one man extra.
The midfield were struggling to make an impact while chances were limited for the Reds who couldn’t seem to find the final ball.
The equaliser, though, did seem to force them to step up a gear but Nathan Stanton cleared an Andy Procter shot off the line while Procter had a free header but it was over the bar.
There was also big appeals for a penalty as the grounded Gary Jones tried to clear the ball but nothing seemed to be going the Reds’ way.
And, as the chances went begging, Rochdale began to grow confidence while Stanley’s seemed to fade.
Defender Rory McArdle headed over while Rundle had switched wings and was a major threat.
And it was total shock as Stanley were punished when a Rundle corner was steered in and Murray was unmarked to head the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar with just 15 minutes left.
Coleman introduced David Brown, Rommy Boco and new boy Billy Dennehy (pictured) but they couldn’t stop it being one-way traffic as the Reds’ backline couldn’t control Dale.
Murray again beat Williams and his shot also beat Dunbavin but it stuck in the mud and Mark Roberts got back to clear. Then the striker had a shot in injury-time which Dunbavin did well to push away as the Stanley defence was all over.
Coleman is not usually one to single out his players but could not hide his frustration.
“We are too brittle at the back. Robbie Williams had a tremendous season last year but this season, he has been so far off his best it is untrue,” he said.
“And Mark Roberts came and did well but he has now joined Robbie Williams. The two of them haven’t had a great deal to do but what they have done, they have done wrong.
“I am not singling them out but it is obvious for everyone to see and sometimes you have got to go out and name names. It is not just them two all the time but those were the two who particularly let us down against Rochdale.
“We have worked on not conceding from set plays time and time again and yet we have. If these players are not going to take the instructions on board then we will get players in who will.”