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Accrington Stanley v Burnley - EFL Cup - Second Round - Wham Stadium

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Fan Focus: Accrington fan Callum predicts his side will beat Sunderland 2-0 today!

Sunderland 0, Accrington 2? Accy fan Callum from RawMilk Fanzine reckons his side might come to Wearside today and cause an upset!

Matthew Crichton: Accrington have won just three of their eight games since losing to Sunderland last month, has anything specifically caused your dip in form?

Callum James: An apocalyptic run of injuries and suspensions has made the wheels fall off in spectacular fashion - we’ve gone from flirting with the playoffs, to being grateful we have already banked enough points to stay in the division.

Missing five or more regular starters on a consistent basis has pulled the rug from under our season. One of these injuries is Nathan Baxter who was on loan from Chelsea. This was a huge loss, with many Accringtonians claiming him to be one of the most talented goalkeepers even to set foot on the hallowed Crown Ground turf.

MC: Rather than competing for a playoff position, it now seems the club are fighting for a top-half finish - would supporters still view that as a success?

CJ: Despite arguably limping over the finish line, this side is well set to achieve the club's highest ever league finish. Most Stanley fans would snap your hands off for fifth bottom when the fixtures come out. For the playoffs to still be in reach as late as March is testament to the shift the lads have put in, and everybody associated with the town should be proud of them.

There are National League clubs with bigger budgets, and for context, you could fit Accrington & Districts population into the Stadium of Light and still have 14,000 empty seats. Every season at this level is a testament to the hard work of those who fought tooth and nail to bring league football back to the town.

MC: John Coleman is enjoying his second spell as manager of Accrington, a role he has held since 2014, what factors make him such an excellent fit for the club?

CJ: John Coleman is the Messiah. It's as simple as that.

He will never get the credit he deserves but what he has done in our little Milltown is one of the modern game's most amazing achievements - four promotions on a budget that makes a shoestring one look generous.

We’ve gone from gates of 300 and competing with Bamber Bridge and Irlam, to our next three opponents being Sunderland, Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth!

He gets the club and the town.

He has a knack for spotting non-league gems and fostering a camaraderie and team spirit that carries us to success against clubs that should obliterate us on paper. He is also a winner. One of the first things he did on his return to the club in 2014 was denounce the “little Accy” tag. He makes it clear we are here on merit and expects to complete.

This has been a successful season but he will not see it that way and will be eyeing a fifth promotion next season.

Accrington Stanley FC Feature Photo by Gary M.Prior/Getty Images

MC: Accies top-scorer Dion Charles has been linked with Championship sides Derby and Cardiff lately, do you think he is likely to leave when the season concludes?

CJ: I think Dion would better be suited to another season here. There are aspects to his game that are rough around the edges and another year at this level would do him the world of good. John Coleman and Jimmy Bell have the knack of getting the best out of players, and there aren’t too many who leave the Crown Ground and go on to bigger and better things.

Having said that, if he does leave hopefully his Northern Ireland cap will add a few zeros to his price tag. One thing about the newfound stability the club has under the current owner is that if he does leave at least, we will get well compensated. The days of being the EFL bargain bin being feasted upon by footballing vultures are over.

MC: 19-year-old goalkeeper Toby Savin has played over half of Accrington’s League One matches in goal, are you pleased to see the manager putting faith in young prospects?

CJ: Toby is a good young prospect and it's great to see young lads getting their chance.

It has been tricky for him at times as the injury crisis has made it difficult for us to get a solid backline and League One is a tough level to learn your trade, but he seems to be growing in confidence and will be an asset next season.

It is always pleasing as a supporter to see young lads have a pathway to the first team. Who knows - maybe one day we can field eleven Accringtonians!

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

MC: Accrington chairman Andy Holt openly discussed his disapproval of the proposed European Super League on Twitter, how do you think it would have affected the English lower leagues if it had gone ahead?

CJ: The ESL for me will eventually happen regardless. It is the inevitable conclusion of the greed culture the Premier League has fostered and the marked shift from football clubs to “brands.” It would have allowed those clubs to hoover up more of the wealth than they already do and thus even less would filter down the leagues. But make no mistake….the patient has come off life support but is still incredibly sick. I am happy enough to have already seen Stanley in Europe - games against Gretna and Colwyn Bay to name but two.

MC: Who are the eleven Accrington players you expect John Coleman to select and what style of play can Lee Johnson’s men expect to encounter?

CJ: Stanley will remain unchanged from our victory against Doncaster last time out in which we dominated with 26 shots and should have won by a much larger margin. John Coleman sides always like to attack and play a passing game with a classic hold-up man and poacher partnership in Colby Bishop and Dion Charles. Bishop holds the ball up and allows others to come into play. And Sean McConville’s set pieces are always a danger.

MC: Sunderland beat Accrington 2-0 back in March, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?

CJ: Hope springs eternal in the Kingdom of Accrington, and we tend to play better against sides above us in the table. We are the ultimate coupon busters.

We actually kept Sunderland at bay in the reverse fixture quite comfortably until individual errors cost us. Head says we might get pasted. Heart says we will nick it.

Therefore, I am going to predict a 2-0 Stanley win.


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