SLOW starts are killing Accrington Stanley this season.
In the past three league games, the Reds have fallen behind in the first 20 minutes and have been unable to recover.
Northampton had gone ahead as early as the third minute, Aldershot waited until the eighth while Shrewsbury took an 18th minute lead on Saturday – and then they have never looked back.
Despite periods of possession, the Reds have been unable to capitalise and four defeats in the first five league games gives John Coleman's side their worst start to the season since they returned to the Football League.
In their first season back it was five points from five games, in 2007-8 ity was six points from five; 08/09 it was again six and this time it's three points from the first five.
And, despite it being only the early stages of the season, the table doesn't make good reading with Stanley in the bottom two – seemingly for the first time in their League Two lives.
Once Shrewsbury scored it was always going to be difficult for a Stanley side who haven't found their scoring boots and have struggled up front.
Mind you, if Michael Symes continues to score like he did against his former club there is hope as the striker ran onto the ball, twrong-footed defender Kelvin Langmead and finished well into the top corner of the net.
But that was a rare highlight in an otherwise poor day for the Reds with Coleman keeping his players in the dressing room after the game to make his feelings known."
Coleman said: "The best team won and we were awful in the first half. We had a couple of spells and had them on the rack at 2-1 but we couldn't convert our chances. But we only had about 15 minutes in the game and they had the other 75 so we can't complain.
"I don't think it was a penalty - most of the time those are not given and I wasn't alarmed initially - but we were lucky to go in only 1-0 down at half-time.
"Then I thought it was a foul on the keeper for their second but, nevertheless, we should defend it.
"We have got to defend better and stop giving cheap goals away. I can't bring players in due to finances so we have just got to keep battling away."
That early goal came again after right back Dean Winnard tugged Dave Hibbert in
the area with referee Jon Moss pointing to the spot and the lively Steve Leslie sending keeper Alan Martin the wrong way.
The home crowd obviously didn't like the decision but the defender did pull Hibbert back.
The Reds, who started with Sean McConville and Symes up front with ex-Shrew Jimmy Ryan at right back and Luke Joyce playing just in front of the defence, rarely tested Shrews new loan keeper Steve Phillips, who was making his debut.
But, at at half-time, Coleman admitted his team were lucky to be only one-goal down and they did come out fighting.
McConville had a shot cleared off the line by Kevin Langmead just after the break with Phillips beaten.
1-1 and it might have been a different story but then a Leslie corner sailed to the far post where Langmead headed home his first goal in 18 months.
.Stanley keeper Martin appealed he had been fouled by Nathan Elder on the line but Langmead's goal stood to give the Shrews – who hadn't won since the opening day of the season – a two goal cushion.
Martin denied Hibbert and then Stanley got their lifeline with Symes' superb solo effort.
Visting keeper Phillips then had to pull off a stunning save to keep out another ex-Shrew Ryan as the Reds upped the
tempo and went all out for the equaliser.
And Bobby Grant hit the post for Stanley during a goalmouth scramble in a frantic final 15 minutes while captain Andy Procter ran
onto a loose ball but couldn't get enough power behind the ball and the Shrews managed to clear their lines.
Then came the killer blow eight minutes from time when Shane dansdell-Sherriff – who was a threat all match – played in a ball which Hibbert got a touch to, brought down and finished off the Reds.