This week brought two vastly contrasting games to the Crown Ground.
Last Saturday’s match against Gillingham was full of excitement and tension from the first to the final whistle. Stanley matched the league-leaders in most if not all areas of the park but were given a stern test against a good, well-equipped side.
In James Beattie’s first home start the Reds put on a convincing attacking performance. Gillingham also impressed going forward and a good batch of chances were made in the first half. The away side took the lead at a pivotal time – just a few minutes before the break – and Stanley had to respond.
When Padraig Amond was introduced to the action about 20 minutes from time, it took little more than 20 seconds for him to make an impact. Beattie dropped deep to win a header and flicked it on into Podge’s path, who was abruptly pole-axed by the Gills goalkeeper. Beattie stepped up for the second time in as many games and duly converted his penalty. Should the two forwards get a chance to start a game up front together, there is evidence that a fruitful partnership could be made.
Rommy Boco went agonisingly close to snatching a win for Stanley but the resulting draw was fair. The way the Reds carried themselves against this calibre of opposition for the second time in a week gave great confidence for Tuesday’s home tie against Rotherham.
The rearranged fixture – Stanley’s game in hand – may have come a day too soon for the Reds after a mentally draining week. The concentration required to gain such positive results in the games prior to this may have contributed towards such a poor display.
An early goal from an unlikely candidate in Dean Winnard put the Reds ahead, but a defensive howler shortly after gifted the Millers an equaliser and the game was then deemed fraught for the remaining 85 minutes. Rotherham did their utmost to stamp any life out of the game and saw that Stanley never really got going. Another defensive mistake gave the visiting side a second goal and the game was as good as dead.
The manner in which we were prevented from playing our game must be frustrating for the players. We must take that into the next game and demand a better outcome. The second round of the FA Cup can be the start of great things and a home tie is as good a chance as any to progress.
On, Stanley, On.