FORMER England boss Peter Taylor paid Accrington a huge compliment - but it didn’t make John Coleman feel any better after Saturday’s defeat.
Stanley more than matched the League Two leaders but, like the clash at the FES earlier in the season, finished the game empty handed and with the feeling that they had been, as Coleman put it, “mugged.”
Wycombe manager Taylor was singing Stanley’s praises but he could be gracious as his side opened a four point gap at the top of the table and ended a run of three games without a win.
“It was a massive result for us against a team who play some good football and were dangerous,” said Taylor.
“In terms of possession, I agree with John Coleman that the best team lost but not in terms of chances created.
“Accrington are a very good side and that makes it a good result for us.”
While the compliments were welcome Coleman could not take heart from them, especially as it was another late goal that meants the Chairboys did the double over the Reds.
They scored a controversial injury time goal to beat Stanley 1-0 earlier in the season. And Matt Harrold popped up to score the winner 10 minutes from time to make it six defeats in ten league games for the Reds.
“The best team lost,” said Coleman. “I feel like I have been mugged - that’s twice by them as they scored a 94th minute goal at our place that looked off-side and from a cheap free kick on Saturday.
“We controlled the game for long periods but haven’t been able to break them down.
“It’s testament to how well we have played though that they are begging for the final whistle - they are time-wasting and hanging on - and they are top of the league.
“But it isn’t enough to be a good side - you’ve got to go on and win games and we have got to be stronger.
“I would sooner take points than heart and we are capable of matching anybody on our day when we get the ball down and pass it but we have got to stop conceding soft goals.”
Stanley had their new Premier League loan signing on show with John Paul Kissock, at Accrington for a month from Everton, getting the nod to start.
And he did show his skills with stepovers and back flicks which tricked the defence at times - but didn’t always come off.
However he played a part in the first real chance when the Toffee-man and Miles played a neat one-two from a corner which found Paul Mullin whose header hit the bar and bounced down and was hooked clear off the line.
“When you are top of the league those go in, when you are struggling near the bottom, they don’t,” said Coleman.
However Stanley’s record appearance holder didn’t let a second chance go to waste. Mullin will admit himself that he is more a tap-in-from-close-range kind of striker but this time he did the spectacular.
He got on the end of Phil Edwards’ long ball forward on the edge of the area and, despite being surrounded by three Wycombe shirts, he chested the ball down and looped it over Scott Shearer for a superb opening for the Reds.
Stanley were causing the league leaders problems and, while Wycombe were dangerous when they broke, Kenny Arthur didn’t really have a lot to do in the opening stages.
However a freak goal got Wycombe back into it just eight minutes later. A quick break down the right led to Chris Casement playing in a low cross which Colin Murdock slid into his own net with Wycombe’s Harrold just behind him.
“You can’t legislate for that,” said Coleman. “We have let a lad turn in midfield and play the pass out wide and that’s where the goal came from not the actual finish.”
It was a disaster for the Reds who had taken the game to the pacesetters and Wycombe did suddenly increase the tempo with Angelo Balanta’s drive taking a deflection of Kieran Charnock and Arthur had to fist the effort over.
However a half-time revival by Stanley meant they once again forced the pace with Jimmy Ryan a driving force in midfield and some neat passing moves involving Miles, Ryan, Mullin, Kissock and Higginbotham kept them in the hunt for a second goal.
Higginbotham was just off-side after one good Kissock move while Ryan’s ball in was headed into Shearer’s arms by Andy Procter.
Stanley also couldn’t make another opportunity count when Shearer was caught out of his goal but Edwards, on the wing, could only put the ball into the backtracking keepers arms with Stanley players lining up in the area with the empty goal at their mercy.
Both sides then made substitutions with Chris Turner coming on for the Reds as Kissock hobbled off with cramp and striker Craig Lindfield, on loan from Liverpool, made his Stanley debut.
However it was the Chairboys sub Scott McGleish who made the biggest impact, winning a dubious free kick on the wing.
“It was given against me,” said defender Charnock. “But it was never a free kick. He used his age and experience to get it.”
Nathan Ashton floated in the ball, it missed everyone but got to the far post where Harrold headed home his 12th goal of the season.
With ten minutes left that was agony for the Reds but they kept going until the end, looking for the deserved equaliser. Lindfield had a go while Charnock headed over a Turner free kick but Wycombe held on.
“It is easy sometimes to blame the referee but if you get a steady drip of decisions against you eventually you are going to score from one and their free kick was soft for the goal,” said Coleman.
“It’s not a free kick in a million years and they score from it. It is hard to take.
“Saying that, we have got to defend a free kick and we have got a tendency to give stupid goals away. We have conspired to beat ourselves and it was bad marking from a set play. The frustrating thing is that our keeper hasn’t had a save to make.
“We are better than our league position suggests but we have got to start winning games.”