ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman hopes two new signings will halt his side’s slide down the League Two table.
The manager has snapped up defender Kieran Charnock from Peterborough and winger Kallum Higginbotham from Rochdale on one-month loan spells - Charnock with a view to signing a permanent deal at Christmas.
Charnock, 24, was chased by Coleman after some stunning performances for Conference side Northwich but he signed for Posh instead in July 2007 for an undisclosed fee.
Things haven’t worked out for the tough tackling defender, a former trainee fireman, and he was transfer-listed and wanted a move back to the North.
However, after 14 appearances for Darren Ferguson’s side last season and just two this campaign, Charnock did play in League One in Posh’s 2-1 win at Walsall on Saturday and had a strong match.
Higginbotham is only 19 but Stanley fans will remember him after he scored one and made one in ten-man Rochdale’s comeback against the Reds in December last season.
That was when the speedy wideman was at his best for Dale and had a number of scouts keeping tabs on him. However, he then had a quiet spell and has been overtaken in the Dale line-up by Will Buckley.
"Kieran will give us a bit of steel in defence," said Coleman, who has taken his loan signings to the maximum five now.
"For 80 minutes we defended magnificently against Bradford on Saturday but it was just getting over that final hurdle.
"He is a good defender and I think he will be keen to prove the people at Peterborough wrong.
"I think he will be chomping at the bit as he hasn’t played a lot of games and goes straight into the squad tomorrow.
"Once the suspensions and injuries are over, we will then have a good competition for places in defence.
"Kallum has impressed me every time I have seen him play and that’s three or four times. The signing of him might give us a lift going the other way.
"He now has to grab his chance here to put himself in the spotlight again after not making Rochdale’s side recently.
"It has been frustrating for him and is difficult to do that when you aren’t playing so this gives him a good opportunity."
They both go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s trip to bottom club Luton - a game the Reds need to win following six league defeats in their last seven games and just one point out of 21.
And both come in during a busy period where 18th placed Stanley have four matches in 11 days with the Hatters, then Shrewsbury on Tuesday followed by Wycombe then Morecambe.
The Reds are struggling for bodies as they will be without Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams (suspended) tomorrow; Peter Murphy, who could be out for several weeks after twisting his knee last week and winger Bobby Grant (knee) who is at Lilleshall at the moment and is around three weeks away.
Loan striker Jamie Clarke is a doubt with a hip injury picked up at Barnet while keeper Ian Dunbavin is struggling with a groin strain.
Leam Richardson is touch and go - he played 40 minutes in the 2-2 behind-closed-doors friendly with Wrexham on Tuesday but still has a stomach injury.
However, young striker Andy Smith is trying to force his way into the starting line-up.
He grabbed a goal against the Welsh side - as did Robbie Williams - and Smith also scored two well-taken goals in the 2-0 reserve win over Morecambe on Wednesday.
Teenage striker Terry Gornell, who scored his first league goal against Bradford, looks likely to extend his one month loan spell from Tranmere Rovers this week.
Meanwhile, Coleman says he is wary of Luton, deducted 30 points at the start of the season for going into administration but they are now up to minus 18.
"They will be a strong side and will see us down in the basement as someone to target but we have to make sure we keep our distance from them," said the Reds chief.
And he admits he is still reeling from the 3-2 loss to Bradford on Saturday where the Reds, after looking comfortable at 2-0, conceded three goals in the final chaotic ten minutes.
"I haven’t got over that yet which is why I am especially looking forward to tomorrow - I wish we had had a midweek game to get it out of our system.
"What we have been trying to do though is make sure the players don’t dwell on the negatives of that game too much and look at the positives.
"We watched the video and we know where we can improve and where we did well and we have got to take heart from that.
"They are all big games now and we can’t keep going on this poor run and not picking up points as it will eventually tell on you."
He continued: "I can’t believe really we are in this situation after winning two out of our first three games.
"I do think, though, we have had a bit of bad luck.
"Sometimes we do deserve to lose and we can’t complain about our defending on Saturday as it was poor but other times things have gone against us.
"It is not sour grapes but there was a blatant handball in the build up to Bradford’s first.
"Also a lot has been made of me taking Jimmy Ryan off with 10 minutes to go.
"But he was tiring after going through a lot of work and had given the ball away three or four times cheaply.
"It was the right decision to put Procky (Andy Procter) on and you can’t legislate for us conceding three like that.
"I think our performances have merited more points that we have got but we have got what we have and we have just got to get on with it."
Captain Cavanagh admitted he and his team-mates were "distraught" after surrendering the two-goal lead against Bradford.
He picked up his fifth booking to miss tomorrow but he is sure his team-mates can bag a result against the bottom placed club.
Cavanagh said: "Obviously confidence is a big thing and, when you get on these runs, it is hard to get yourself out of it.
"We know, though, that if we can pick up one positive result then we can take it from there and hopefully pick up a few more.
"Luton isn’t a game to be taken lightly - no game is at the moment especially when you are not winning.
"Luton is huge and then so is Shrewsbury on Tuesday - even at this stage of the season."
The promotion-chasing Shrews visit the FES on Tuesday and they have been the goal-getters in League Two with two 7-0 wins already this season.
"I watched Shrewsbury a few weeks ago against Chester and they are a big, strong side who are difficult to play to against," said Coleman, with Reds’ defender Colin Murdock and midfielder Jimmy Ryan coming up against their former team-mates.
"But Chester stuck to their task against them so I can’t see why we can’t.
"This league is capable of throwing out strange results and we have got to make sure we aren’t on the end of them."