Most people think of milk and mockery when they hear the words “Accrington Stanley.” For me, though, I will always associate them with being freezing cold and soaking wet after our washout of a game back in December.
Going into that game, Stanley were doing quite well and looked like they had a chance of making the Play Offs. They had carried their promotion clinching form into the current campaign and were channelling every inch of underdog spirit.
As tends to be the way with such things, Accy’s momentum has stalled. It’s not too harsh to say they’ve plummeted when you look at their lack of goals scored and the fact that they haven’t scored a league goal in 2019. So they’re either the exact kind of side we need to play right now or an absolute nightmare waiting to happen.
To find out how it might all pan out this evening, we spoke to Callum Gibson of Accrington Stanley fanzine Raw Milk.
RR: What’s the mood around Accrington like at the moment? Early in the season you looked like you could have nabbed a play off spot but you’re in 16th now. Are there many frustrations?
CG: It’s been a bit of a double edged sword. We’re bottom of the form table with only 27 league goals scored. Yet if you’d have offered us this position at the start of the season with an FA Cup run thrown into the bargain, many of us would have snapped your arm off.
We’re just enjoying the ride and trying to make our little mill town proud. Third tier football was beyond even the wildest expectations of anybody around the club, especially when we were losing 5-0 to the likes of Bamber Bridge in the league not too long ago.
RR: You mentioned how you’re bottom of the form table, a turn that happened around the start of the year, but what exactly has happened? Can you pin point any particular issues?
CG: Novelty carried us through for a while early doors and we had a string of 1-1 draws early on which we really should have won. Since then the goals have dried up and Billy Kee finds himself a marked man after last seasons heroics.
We’ve also lost a spate of loan players who were contributing massively, in particular goalkeeper Connor Ripley. The nature of our budget means we have a lot of players untried at this level a and some are struggling with the step up.
RR: You’re certainly not in any huge relegation trouble so how do you see the club kicking on next season? What steps do the club need to take to sustain themselves in League One and possibly push for the Championship?
CG: I’ll take your word on that! It’s certainly getting a bit tighter but than I’d like. I’m hopeful there are four sides worse than us though.
In terms of progression the club needs to continue to live within its means and spend any excess money on developing the facilities and engaging the town and wider community. I don’t know how’s long it will take but I’m adamant we will eventually sneak one more promotion.
John Coleman’s track record at Accy can’t be questioned and once he works out what it takes to succeed in this division I’m sure we’ll have a a good crack at promotion.
RR: It was hard to really assess either side in our soaking wet, eventually abandoned meeting back in December. So I’m wondering who Sunderland fans will need to keep an eye on in the Stanley side?
CG: If Billy Kee turns up then so do Stanley. Also our wingers McConville and Clark are dangerous on their day.
Keep a look out for young Daniel Barlaser, he’s on loan from a side up the road I don’t think you like very much and might well be up for this one. He also happens to be a lifelong Newcastle fan!
RR: And how about our squad? Anyone you’re preemptively worried about?
CG: You’ve always got to be worried about Aiden McGeady. On his day he can slice any side in Division Three to ribbons.
RR: What approach do you think you’ll take in this match and what do you think the starting XI will be?
CG: I think we will go one up front and try to frustrate and play on the break. A tight first fifteen minutes is key if we are to get anything.
Starting XI: Maxted; Johnson, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Donacien; Clark, Conneely, Barlaser, McConville, Brown; Kee.
RR: Finally, can we have a score prediction please?
CG: We will either get hammered or it will be a typical Accy smash ‘n’ grab. So I’m being optimistic and saying 1-0 to the Stanley.