Accrington Stanley – the club that wouldn’t die

There are currently seven* clubs in the EFL that Charlton have never played in a league fixture. This will reduce to six when we travel to the WHAM Stadium this Saturday to take on the club which infamously resigned from the Football League in March 1962 unable to complete its fixtures. Technically, we will not actually be playing the same club because the new Accrington Stanley was formed in 1970 and began its life in The Lancashire Combination.

Much of the credit for the club's rise back to the EFL must go to current manager John Coleman who, after a prolific goal scoring career in northern non-league football, was appointed as manager of Stanley in 1999. He immediately got them promoted to the Northern Premier League. Three years later the club received a windfall from the sell-on clause they had negotiated with Blackpool for Brett Ormerod. When the striker left for Southampton, Coleman used the cash wisely and put together a side which won promotion to The Conference in 2003.

A 19 game unbeaten run in 2005/06 saw them win promotion back to Football League after an absence of 46 years. A young Rob Elliot played a crucial part in this successful team. Meanwhile Charlton were finishing thirteenth in the Premier League.

Coleman kept the club in League 2 for five seasons before leaving to take over at Rochdale in June 2012. He lasted less than a year and, after short spells at Southport and Sligo Rovers, he returned to Accrington in September 2014. After taking the club to the play-off semi-finals in 2016 he eventually achieved his fourth promotion in April this year when his team beat Yeovil 2-0 on their way to becoming champions of League 2.

They began this season with a 0-2 home defeat by Gillingham but bounced back to beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 away last Saturday. We shouldn't read too much into their 6-1 defeat at Mansfield in the cup on Tuesday night as Coleman made six changes from the side he fielded at Bristol. He left out goalkeeper Conor Ripley and striker Billy Kee who was nominated last season for the EFL League Two Player of the Season award after he became the League's top scorer with 25 goals (plus 8 assists).

Of course, in order to protect his thin resources, Lee Bowyer made nine changes for the cup game at Milton Keynes on Tuesday so even less should be read into that result. It is to be expected that he will revert to his Shrewsbury starting eleven for Saturday's game. There was much to admire in the performance against Shrewsbury and the late winner gave everyone a boost but few would deny that the squad is still four or five experienced players short of being ready to mount a consistent challenge. Nevertheless we expect that the euphoria of Saturday will carry the team on to another three points in advance of the home game with Peterborough on Tuesday 21st.


* And the other six clubs that we haven't yet played are ........?