Tomorrow’s trip to Accrington Stanley see’s the Stags visit a club with a rich history, no I’m not talking about Milk, but about fight and desire – pretty much every football fan in the land knows the story of the club that wouldn’t die.
I’ll be honest, I hate Accrington – not hate in a horrible way, but frustration hate – I’ve never seen us do well there and it was once the venue for a postponement after 45 minutes, where we stood open to the elements and got drenched! The only saving grace was the rain hid many a Stags fans tears as Lord Barker appeared to say an emotional farewell amid wild rumours he was about to be sold against his and the managers wished.
Accrington because of that is associated in my mind for being cold, wet and miserable – for want of a better phrase, it’s the bogey ground.
In fact a trawl back through the records show the Stags last victory at Accrington, came in 1936/37 [If the records are wrong… sorry!] – In fact if you compare the stats, Accrington’s league two record see the Stags be the third best team they have success against.
It’s something we need to correct tomorrow to increase our grip on second place and keep the early pace, as over the next month we have some really tricky games.
Accrington are a far better side than they ever get credit for with a superb manager in John Coleman, a man I would not have been disappointed with had the Steve Evans thing not happened. Coleman knows this division and is a knowledgeable man when it comes to recruitment, the players he’s brought in over the close season will boost Stanley and push star man Billy Kee up another level.
It’s a tight pitch and not the best of surfaces – it’s not going to be a game where we can play particularly fluid football and rack up chance after chance, we’ve got to go and frustrate Accrington and be physical – set pieces in particular will be pivotal in the pursuit of victory.
This is where the team strength in depth is going to come in handy and it may even be games such as this, where we see how important that depth is – it’s not a game we’ll win by being pretty, something previous managers haven’t quite grasped, Steve Evans though – knows it’s a dogfight to silence they club that refused to die.
"It'll be a different type of game on Saturday. We have to once again earn the right to play because if you go to Accrington under John Coleman's guise and you don't earn the right to play, it makes it a long day for you,"
"We're under no illusions as to how tough it's going to be. We need to go to Accrington and we need to try and win the game, we need to compete to win the game. If we do that and if we work as hard as Accrington, with the players we'll travel up with, we'll have a chance.”
"They're very strong. I've said before, on record, that they've got an excellent management team and they've picked up players, like John does, really wisely and that's why they'll be contenders.”
The Stags could be boosted by the return of Alex MacDonald who played in a behind closed doors match in midweek at Peterborough which the Stags lost narrowly 1-0. MacDonald, as we note in this week’s podcast, is strong and quick – he’s exactly the type of player you want against Accrington in a game which for the players will feel like 90 minutes a half!
One thing on the Stags side is a new travel rule they’ve put in place, I need to be sure on the exact time – but pretty much anything that’s over an hour and a half travel time will be an overnight stop.
It may seem excessive but I think it’s a cracking idea, teams like Accrington who have that reputation of being a tough place to visit, bank on getting in teams heads – especially those who need to travel, so to be going to the game having not endured the travel – the players will be more fresh, and hopefully spring a surprise on Stanley.
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