THE FA Cup is proving to be a case of feast or famine for Accrington Stanley.
After making round three in 2003 the Reds hadn’t won a game in the competition since, but now they are through to that stage again after delighting manager John Coleman with a 1-0 win over Barnet in their second-round replay on Tuesday.
Bobby Grant’s goal after 14 minutes proved to be the difference between the sides, but the Reds could easily have been more comfortable victors.
"It could have been 10," said boss Coleman, who wanted his side to bounce back after conceding a late dubious penalty to the Bees at the Crown Ground in the first game.
"If you keep missing chances then you’re always liable to be punished. Thankfully I thought we defended well in the game.
"I thought the performance was good and I thought we deserved to win the game.
"We started bright, we could’ve gone in two or three up from the first half – Jimmy (Ryan) hit the post, Billy (Kee) has missed a one on one, a ball’s come back to Symesy (Michael Symes) and he’s missed and we’ve put a couple of great balls into the box."
Stanley started the game replay well against a side who haven’t lost in the league at Underhill this season.
After just six minutes, Symes forced a great save from goalkeeper Jake Cole with a left footed shot.
But the Reds didn’t have to wait long to get their goal. Symes headed down Darran Kempson’s free kick into the penalty area and, after Luke Joyce and Billy Kee had both had attempts blocked, and Grant was on hand inside the penalty area to mis-hit his 12th goal of the season with his weaker right foot.
"If you think about it Bobby’s probably scuffed the goal really." said Coleman "It’s probably one of the hardest chances we had in the game. We missed far easier ones."
With their noses in front Stanley’s confidence grew and on a saturated pitch their passing began to take hold.
Kee might have done better when put through one-on-one; the on-loan Leicester striker firing his shot straight at Cole with Symes unable to bag the rebound.
Kempson just failed to connect with a Joyce free kick and Ryan rattled the woodwork from outside the penalty box.
It wasn’t entirely one-way traffic with Barnet striker John O’Flynn, the last minute scorer against the Reds at the Crown Ground, having a go.
He chipped the ball into the grateful hands of Stanley keeper Dean Bouzanis when one-on-one and Yannick Bolasie steered the ball wide from a corner.
After the break the Bees inevitably pressed for an equaliser.
"We had a flat spot of 20 minutes in the second half when, although they didn’t create a lot against us, they had a lot of the ball and we didn’t occupy them at all," said Coleman.
"Once they chased the game and pushed more men forward we were able to get our passing game going and pick them off and it’s just a shame we didn’t score."
The win could have been comfortable had Ryan, Symes or captain Andy Procter taken good chances or if the flag had stayed down when Sean McConville found the net.
But one goal proved to be enough to set Stanley up with a home tie against League One Gillingham.
At the final whistle, spirits were high though the boss felt they shouldn’t be getting to carried away.
He added: "I think our lads are deluded because they’re singing about going to Wembley. I don’t know where they’re getting that from!"