The Thursday Preview: Accrington Vs Stevenage
But when we last featured the Hertfordshire club in advance of what proved to be a momentous win over Newcastle in the FA Cup in January, they were in far from rude health. At that point, a woeful early winter had seen them beat nobody barring localish rivals Barnet over a three month period and I was left to analyze why they kept on failing to land anyone from the not inconsiderable talent pool emerging from the town and its environs.
But that win has provided the spur for a terrific Spring. Aside from the odd setback like the one that saw Northampton Town save their skins a fortnight or so ago, the victories have been in plentiful supply; most notably in a 6 game stretch that straddled March and April. Graham Westley’s charges have been particularly effective away from Broadhall Way with a 1-0 win at now-promoted Wycombe thanks to a John Mousinho goal perhaps the most noteworthy triumph of all.
With chilling originality, Westley has adopted an old Millwall refrain to defend his side’s physical approach but Boro are really no worse than many at this level and his defensiveness displays a touchiness that’s perhaps unncessary. Many do resent the club, but that’s more to do with their boss’s history than their preferred playing technique and besides, they’ll enjoy hiding in Crawley’s shadow if they don’t make it through here or at the Old Trafford final.
The outstanding FC Boro – a strong candidate for our annual best club blog of the year award that will be announced soon – has signalled up some tension between the teams after Stevenage’s 2-0 win in the first leg and Accies boss John Coleman has applied bellows to the flames by accusing the Westleyans of over celebrating. Stacy Long – not the only man of that name to experience play off delight this May – and Joel Byrom gave the Boro a 2-0 win that will be very tough to overturn and if Accrington have avoided the horrors of what might be termed “Morecambe Syndrome”, they’ll need to show much mettle to progress.
The exemplary Coleman is rightly being associated with moves to bigger clubs and it’s been a wonderful playing campaign for Stanley but despite the undeniable romantic appeal of this byword-for-national-joke strolling out at the self-styled Theatre of Dreams, the season’s underbelly has been decidedly distressed – the completion of Ilyas Khan’s protracted takeover in April saving the day after the usual tales of unpaid players, crowds that regularly fail to break the 2,000 mark, and Lancashire taxmen hopping from foot to foot. A cabbage patch of a pitch has invited heavy critiques, but that may suit the southerners’ up and at ’em credo – 3-2 to Stanley on the night but Stevenage to go through.