Accrington – big improvement needed

If the season was ended prematurely and the outcome was decided on current points per game, Accrington would finish in third place and we wouldn't make the play-offs.

As it is, Stanley arrive at The Valley in eighth place - two points behind us with three games in hand,  Even allowing for the fact that the salary cap has inevitably had a levelling up effect it is an impressive achievement and it is little wonder that their manager John Coleman is calling for an extension to the season.  Having suffered seven postponements already his team have thirty games to play in four months - a game every four days.

They have won nine of their sixteen matches this season although only one of these (2-0 v Peterborough in September) has come against a top six club. Away from home they have already beaten Wimbledon 1-2, Northampton 0-1, Swindon 0-3 and Gillingham 0-2 but they haven't played since their 0-0 draw with Blackpool on 19th December having lost their recent scheduled games with Sunderland to Covid and with Portsmouth to a frozen pitch.

It is almost exactly two years ago that they last came to The Valley when they made very few friends in a game they lost to a 93rd minute Karlan Grant penalty after their goalkeeper and Lyle Tyler had been sent off. However, before the game their owner Andy Holt had made a lot of friends when CAST invited him to The White Swan in Charlton Village to meet supporters.

Holt, an Accrington-based businessman, told us about how he got involved with his local club and stressed how crucial it was for clubs to be rooted in their local communities.

“Accrington Stanley has given me far more than I’ve given it. You get your fancy cars and ideas above your station. This has brought me back to the people, back to earth. It’s like planting bulbs in the autumn – a lot of hard work – but you forget that hard work when you see the flowers in the spring. It’s hard work but we’re building a belting little club. It’s our job to make sure it is still here in 50 years – it’s not about getting to the Premier League.”

His final words for Charlton fans were: “You’ve got a great club. You need to get it back to belonging to people who care.” At the time we despaired of this ever happening but at last we have what we wished for.

There have been two additions to Lee Bowyer's squad this week. 31 year old striker Ronnie Schwartz has been signed from Danish champions FC Midtjylland. He is an impressive finisher but he hasn't played this season and is unlikely to start on Friday. The other arrival is 21 year old Liverpool winger Liam Miller who is here on loan until the end of the season. He is a Canadian international who has played 36 games for Kilmarnock during loan spells in the last two seasons and who should be able to add the pace to our attack which has been missing since Alfie Doughty's injury.

Our team's dismal performance at Hull last weekend suggested that all is not well in the camp and many of us are mystified by current selections and tactics. Too many talented players are underperforming and there is pressure on Lee Bowyer to show that he really can get the best out of the squad at his disposal. Because of Darren Pratley's suspension we will start on Friday with a specialist central defender in Deji Oshilaja, but whether we continue with others playing out of position remains to be seen. We have no right to insist that we should beat "clubs like Accrington" but, if we don't, our pretensions of being promotion candidates, will look increasingly hollow.


Our full report of the meeting with Accrington owner Andy Holt in January 2019 can be seen here: