City embark on their second successive trip to former Conference foes on Saturday (25th August) when they visit East Lancashire and Accrington, hoping to build on the confidence-boosting performance and result at Aldershot. Paul Tisdale may look to the same starting XI that served him so well in Hampshire, although with Jamie Cureton having run himself into the ground he may opt for the O’Flynn/Bauza partnership up front. The two Elliotts – Frear and Chamberlain – will both be hoping for a spot on the bench.
Accrington, the self-proclaimed “club that wouldn’t die” – even though they did, twice, have confounded the critics since their promotion to the Football League in 2006. Every year the smart money is on them to struggle at the foot of the table and return to their more “natural” level that their fanbase and club size would suggest, but every year they have competed comfortably, improving season on season to reach the playoffs in 2011 before slipping back to mid-table last season, finishing 14th. A huge part of their success has been laid at the door of John Coleman, the somewhat irascible non-league goalscoring legend (once subjected to an official complaint by City about his conduct during a match), but fans feared the worst when he jumped ship to join Rochdale. In his place is Paul Cook, who after an inconsistent finish to the last campaign has seen his side fly out of the blocks this time round, winning both of their opening games to sit proudly in 3rd place, having beaten surprise strugglers Southend and crisis club Port Vale.
Accrington, as befitting one of the smallest (if not the smallest) clubs in the division, isn’t a side packed with household names. One player City may remember is Craig Lindfield, the former Liverpool trainee in his second spell at the club caused no end of trouble to City’s defence the last time the sides met, before netting the winner. In goal will be Ian Dunbavin, also originally of Liverpool, who is a veteran of over 300 appearances for various clubs.
So, what about the ground itself? Here’s the Exeweb ground guide:http://www.exeweb.com/2012/06/13/the-things-you-need-to-know-the-crown-round/
Accrington have had to make numerous improvements to the ground in order to maintain their league status, most notably bolting in some seats here and there in order to meet minimum seating requirements, so the ground has something of a ramshackle appearance. City’s support will be on an open terrace, so pray for sunshine! What Accrington’s crowd lacks in numbers they usually try to make up for in noise with their “Stanley Ultras”, although this seems mostly to consist of having more flags than fans. Rumour has it the flags were included in crowd numbers when their crowds hovered around the 1,000 mark a couple of years back…
The last time City made the trek to Accrington was in the midst of our late dash to promotion in March 2009, only to head for home having suffered what turned out to be the last defeat of the season – City took an early lead through Adam Stansfield, but the hosts stormed back with goals from John Miles (proving perhaps that music wasn’t his first love) and the aforementioned Lindfield. City’s overall record against Accrington is P8 W4 D1 L3.