ACCRINGTON Stanley's new signing Ged Brannan is ready to help the Reds push for a Conference play-off place.
The 31-year-old was snapped up on Tuesday after settling his contract at Wigan Athletic and played 90 minutes in Stanley's dramatic 3-3 draw with league leaders Chester. The Prescot-born player has more than 400 Football League appearances under his belt for Tranmere, Manchester City, Norwich and Wigan. He has recently been on loan at Rochdale.
"It is good to be playing again," said the midfielder who signed a two-year deal. "I wasn't in the Wigan first team and this is obviously a club who are going forward. So many clubs are battling to save themselves but this is a club which has its head above water and is well run.
"When I came here I was impressed by how professional it is. I know the likes of Paul Cook from my days at Tranmere and I have seen Accrington when they have been on television this season. They have had a decent start and seem to have nothing to fear from this league. They are a good group of lads, who work hard for each other, and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their goals."
It is a timely signing as the Reds will be without three key players for this weekend's visit of Barnet. Left back Steve Hollis fractured his wrist in Saturday's 5-1 hammering against Telford and will be out for at least four weeks. But he was suspended anyway along with Robbie Williams and Peter Cavanagh for five bookings.
"I have been chasing Ged Brannan for three or four months now," said boss John Coleman. "He will be a great asset. He put in a number of good tackles on the edge of each box against Chester, he is strong and fit and was disappointed he didn't score with a header. He can also play in any position. He's only 31 and has bags of experience."
Coleman is hoping he will help shore up a defence which has leaked eight goals in their last two games. He knows that is a problem but has been impressed with his frontline as Stanley's top strikers Lutel James and Paul Mullin have now scored 12 and 11 goals respectively. The fightback at Chester from 3-1 down certainly boosted the confidence.
"Not many teams will come to Chester and score three goals," said the boss. "It shows how good we are going forward. Now we just need to tighten up at the back and hit teams on the break. We needed the point going into the Barnet game - a few doubts might have started creeping into a few players' minds. It has given us confidence and it showed the spirit of the side."
Coleman is pleased to be talking about football after a troublesome week at the club when winger Rory Prendergast went on the transfer list by mutual consent after an internal disagreement - but has now come off it.
Prendergast celebrated by scoring the late equaliser against Chester - and the celebrations with his team-mates and manager alike showed this was an episode which is over. "No one holds grudges at the club and Rory had a big smile on his face at the end," said Coleman.
Prendergast admitted: "I love Accrington and I love the fans. It was great to score and make one on Tuesday - it was for the fans. All I want to do is play football and now I can't wait for Saturday's game."
STANLEY'S Lancashire League table-topping side lost 2-1 against Northwich last Friday. Damien Hindle scored. The reserves face Bamber Bridge on Fridey at Great Harwood FC (ko 7.30pm).
MARK Carsley from Stanley helped the Lancashire FA Youth team to a 3-1 win over Cumberland FA.
STANLEY'S youth team made it through to the last eight of the LFA Youth Cup with a 3-1 victory over Roach Dynamoes on Sunday.
THERE are still a couple of places for fans who want to fly to next Saturday's FA Cup clash at Bournemouth from Blackpool Airport. The cost is £150. Tel: Phil Heywood on 01253 301162.