Make-or-break time for Stanley

Sunday 3rd March 2013 20:02

Accrington: Critical week for Stanley

Accrington: Critical week for Stanley

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Accrington are hovering just outside the League Two relegation zone - and FanZone's Stanley blogger Lee Walker knows it is make-or-break time.

Some people say six months is a lifetime in football, and looking at my last blog for the mighty Accrington Stanley, I would have to agree.

2012 turned out to be an absolute nightmare for my little club, with legendary manager John Coleman leaving for Rochdale, and his successor - former fans favorite Paul Cook - being poached by big-spending Chesterfield after six months, and finally to top it off - a full-on relegation battle!

I was initially very impressed with Cook, despite a very poor finish to last season. He said all the right things and seemed to get the new team playing, especially early in the season with some fantastic performances away at Southend, Cheltenham and AFC Wimbledon.

This was tempered, however, with four straight defeats in October, including a horrific 5-0 loss away at Oxford United, which was one of the worst Stanley performances in living memory.

Quite unbelievably, a week later Cook had gone, and his assistant, former player Leam Richardson, was appointed as his permanent successor.

It was a massive gamble by the chairman and board which at the moment doesn't seem to have paid off. Initially we performed quite well with home victories against Bristol Rovers and a good away win in the FA Cup first round to AFC Fylde. However 20 games later and the grand total of three wins means we are involved in probably the tightest relegation battle in League 2 history.

I initially gave Leam the benefit of doubt as it wasn't really his team. Swelled by way too many loaness, we had more than 20 players on the books at Christmas time, with a large number being simply not interested in pulling on the red shirt of Accrington. Former steady players such as Luke Joyce, Charlie Barnett and George Miller have all lost form coupled with a constant stream of injuries. We really do have our backs against the wall.

Despite this, however, Richardson has now had a January transfer window to try and shape the side, but the problems seemed to have persisted with a leaky defence and non-existent attack.

The likes of James Beattie (unattached), Nicky Hunt (Rotherham United), Paul Rachubka (Leeds United) and Mark Hughes (Bury) have all been brought in to try and stem the flow of defeats. Rewind a week and I really did think we were doomed. However, two home draws and a fantastic midweek away win at Rochdale has kept us in the frame. The most recent signings of Amine Linganzi (unattached) and Tom Aldred (Colchester United) seem to have made a difference and I'm praying they can stay fit for the final 10 games of the season.

We have three home games in seven days next week, which make no mistake WILL make-or-break our season. Simple.

Relegation and 40+ years of work will be wasted as the Blue Square Premier is now a nightmare of a division to get out of. You only need to look at the likes of Luton Town, Grimsby, Stockport County, Wrexham and Hereford to see how hard it really is.

We will survive. In my humble opinion, JUST!

On Stanley On.

By Lee Walker, FanZone's Accrington Stanley blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @leewasi - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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