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A week after a first competitive defeat in the cup versus Doncaster, we have now fallen to a league defeat, losing 2-1 away at Accrington.

Three weeks ago we visited Nelson’s Little Wembley to play Accrington in the Youth Alliance Cup, and came away with a 1-0 win via a solitary Scott Wilson goal. On Saturday, while Wilson once again put the ball in the Accy net, we were on the end of a 2-1 defeat. In terms of changes from the Donny game, we saw James Clarke drop to the bench, with Leighton Egan dropping to right back and Dwight McNeil returning to the starting line-up. Mark Howarth and Tinashe Chakwana also came in, with Tommy Wood dropping to the bench and U-16 midfielder Ethan Kershaw leaving the squad entirely.

A second goal against Accrington for Scott Wilson

A second goal against Accrington for Scott Wilson

We started at full tilt, going right at the Stanley side and putting them on the back foot. A handful of minutes in we had a strong penalty appeal turned away as a Chakwana snap shop appeared to be blocked by a Stanley arm when goalbound, but the ref was adamant. As the pressure was still on Egan drifted in a lovely cross but McNeil open his foot too much and diverted the ball wide of goal.

RJ Pingling also created a great opening when played in by Chakwana, but when the keeper rushed out he clipped across goal and it was agonisingly out of reach of both Chakwana and Tristan Jumeau.

After the opening salvo Stanley found their feet coming more and more into the game. A long range pot shot was paddled wide by a slightly surprised Connor King and suddenly Stanley were in the ascendancy. They won a couple of corners and on 25 got the reward for stepping up a gear. A right wing corner was driven in flat to the near post, flashing past the static front post marker. King reacted to parry, but couldn’t control. Stanley reacted quickest to the loose ball and Rathbone smashed home.

It forced us to try and pick it up a bit. We made chances but all too often our final ball was letting us down, or the end product was just below par. A right wing free kick from Tyler Shrimpton was headed directly at the keeper by Oliver Younger. Egan released Chakwana down the right but, in chipping the keeper, he put it off target and saw the effort drift wide. Pingling saw a flashing shot deflected wide and Wilson headed over from the corner when free. It was all quite frustrating.

The frustration came to a head in the dying embers of the half when we had a flashpoint in the far corner while McNeil tried to keep a through ball in. The Stanley defender shepherded it out as is the want of a modern footballer and the competitive edge turned into handbags. McNeil raised hands and pushed his opponent squarely in the chest and the reaction was to hit the deck holding his face. It seems the nearby ref saw it clearly and just told him to get up, brandishing a yellow to both. Young Dwight could have gone for raising his hands, of that there is no doubt, so he can consider himself lucky, but the reaction was embarrassing really not something I expect to see in youth football.

The 2nd half had a much more sedate beginning as the sapping heat couldn’t have been easy to play in. We waited until around 5 minutes from the hour mark before we should have really drawn level. McNeil charged down a clearance from the right back and broke free. He delivered well, with Chakwana and Pingling powering into the box. Pingling called and was better placed, but Chakwana was the first man and stretched out a toe and poked the cross wide of the goal.

Stanley were still giving as good as they got and were clearly at their most dangerous with set plays. Another corner caused problems and King was brave to claim a ball under real pressure, colliding with the post heavily, but he was ok to continue. Duffer saw this as the ideal time to make some changes and took off both wingers, with Jumeau and McNeil being replaced by Tommy Wood and U-16 winger Akim Samms. Wood moved up front with Chakwana taking a place out wide.

With around 20 left in the game we finally drew level. Samms won a free kick on the left wing and Shrimpton lined it up, with all of the big lads up from defence. The measured ball in was perfect and our running had completely bamboozled the defence, meaning we were literally lining up to score. Wilson was the one who made the connection and while it may not have been a clean connection, it was certainly more than enough to beat the keeper.

While we pushed for a winner it was the same story of poor decision making, or some of our lads just not being on the front foot when it was critical. As we approached the death with a draw looking pretty nailed on Stanley hit us with a killer blow. It came from nothing and the simplicity of the goal will have frustrated the coaches no end. A right wing cross was headed home by Mills past an exposed King in the nets, and with injury time looming we had no time to get back and maintain the unbeaten league run.

On the bright side though is the hopefully imminent return of Miles Fenton following illness. He was with the squad today, kicking in and being put through paces at half time. In addition it was good to see Adam Bruce around the squad following the cruel knee injury he got before his 1st year scholarship could really begin. The atmosphere certainly appears to be more positive around the place at the moment.

Team:- Connor King, Leighton Egan, Ali Koiki, Scott Wilson, Oliver Younger, Mark Howarth, Tyler Shrimpton, Tristan Jumeau (Tommy Wood), Dwight McNeil (Akim Samms), RJ Pingling, Tinashe Chakwana
Subs not used:- Marcel Wusiewicz, Billy Grogan, James Clarke

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