Sport

Accrington Stanley 2 Halifax Town 1

ACCRINGTON Stanley manager John Coleman had only said last week that he wanted more of his players to start chipping in with the goals.

ACCRINGTON Stanley manager John Coleman had only said last week that he wanted more of his players to start chipping in with the goals.

Lutel James, Paul Mullin, Andy Gouck and Rory Prendergast lead the way in the goal scoring charts for the Reds and the boss has told more of his players to try their luck.

So he must have had a wry smile after the game when both Steve Flitcroft and Dean Calcutt opened their Stanley accounts for the season.

Flitcroft's goal was one to remember. He teed the ball up and volleyed it home from 20 yards leaving the goalkeeper no chance. And Calcutt's also involved a tricky manoevre as he back-heeled the ball home from a Rory Prendergast ball in after Lutel James had failed to connect fully with the cross.

"Some may say Dean's goal was a bit scruffy but I didn't think so. It was a good goal and he finished it well," said the boss. "Rory has done tremendous on the left to put the ball in and then Dean has finished it off. And Steve's is another great goal. There was a nice bit of skill, a bit of showboating and it was a good volley. They have chipped in now and on another day we would have scored more."

James, on 16 Conference goals, is keen to make the magical 20 mark and will be disappointed he missed two good chances to increase his tally against Town. And top scorer Paul Mullin - who could still challenge for the Conference Golden Boot although, with 17 league goals he has a tough task to chase Barnet's Giuliano Grazioli with 23 - will be looking to get back on track before the end of the season after four games without a goal.

Coleman doesn't mind who scores - but what he does mind is nervy endings to games. There have been too many in recent times with late goals proving costly to the Reds play-off push. And he had to cope with another unsettling five minutes in the dug-out after a Val Owen shot hit Darran Kempson and looped into the net late on.

"It wasn't Darran's fault - he couldn't get out of the way. He can't be blamed but we never make things easy do we? I thought we would run out comfortable winners once we went 2-0 up especially as they had a man sent off but we don't do anything simply."

There was fears of deja vu as Town managed a couple of attacks in injury time although thankfully they came to nothing and the Reds were able to celebrate their first win in six league games.

"It was a relief," continued Coleman.

"But when you haven't won for a while you do get a bit nervous but thankfully we have come through it. One thing I did think we showed is what a good spirit and attitude we have here - it is a big lift to at last get a win."

The game did turn after Halifax's top scorer Craig Midgley was sent off on 40 minutes for an elbow into the face of Stanley captain Peter Cavanagh. The assistant referee had no hesitation although the referee did also book Cavanagh - for "aggravation."

"I think the referees just have a stamp now with Peter Cavanagh's name on it," said Coleman. "Cav was the one elbowed and then, for some unknown reason, he got booked - that is disappointing."

There had been half chances for either side up until that point - the best falling to James who got on the end of Paul Mullin's cross on 20 minutes but skied the effort.

Then Midgley walked and two minutes later Flitcroft produced his bit of magic to send the Reds into a deserved lead. And they should have gone in with a two-goal cushion at the break but Town keeper Mark Cartwright dived low to keep out a James effort after good build up by Mullin and Prendergast.

However, Calcutt's backheel meant the Reds could relax a bit more although James could have made it a lot more comfortable on the bench but, after getting on the end of another Prendergast cross, his effort was wide.

Stanley keeper Jon Kennedy did have to be alert at the other end to keep out Ryan Mallon and he held onto sub Michael Senior's 20 yard effort. But he could do nothing about their goal - their first away goal since November 29 and in around 450 minutes of football - when Steve Bushell's corner found Owen whose effort went into the top corner of the net off Kempson. It left a nervy finale but thankfully the Reds held on.

"I thought we played okay," continued Coleman. "It was a bit flat in the first half and we didn't really adjust to the conditions - the ball was a bit bouncey and the pitch was lively and we didn't get the ball down and play. And then they had the lad sent off and it gave us a jolt - after that we played reasonably well and had a lot of chances and a lot of the ball.

"But, despite their late goal, it was good to win and it would have been harsh if we hadn't won. It will give us a big lift especially as we have a big game against Hereford on Saturday followed by Margate and Stevenage."