John Coleman's Accrington Stanley close gap on leaders Luton

by Gabriel Sutton / 10 February 2018, 19:11

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) reflects on another superb day for in-form Accrington Stanley who recorded a 2-0 win away to a Coventry side that failed to sparkle in front of a bumper crowd.

Stanley march on

Accrington Stanley have won games this season by consistently creating chances through the wide play of Jordan Clark and Sean McConville.

With the latter absent for Saturday’s trip to Coventry City, they gained their 2-0 win in a different way. Clark was not so much a prominent creative influence this time, but more of a clinical finisher at the end of the moves, finishing the day with a brace.

He showed excellent movement to get beyond his man to tap in Callum Johnson’s cross, opening the scoring as early as the third minute. After that, the more impressive aspects of their performance centred around the work they did without the ball.

Wide men Clark and Johnson stayed disciplined to squeeze out space on the flanks. Seamus Conneely, who was returning from a long-term injury, battled valiantly in midfield alongside Liam Nolan, whose shrewd positional sense came to the fore.

Right-back Harvey Rodgers was always first to loose balls and left-back Janoi Donacien looked right at home away from his usual right-back position. That sturdy sextet provided the ideal protection for Mark Hughes, who took few chances in his defending alongside impressive Burnley loanee Jimmy Dunne.

Dare we say, Stanley’s attacking play wouldn’t ordinarily have yielded two goals. Kee was often the target but him and Kayden Jackson, unusually, weren’t quite on one another’s wavelengths.

Kee though fed Clark for the second; the ex-Shrewsbury man made another clever run on the break and slotted the ball underneath the goalkeeper to give Stanley victory. John Coleman’s men have perhaps produced better attacking performances this season, but when you comfortably defeat one of your promotion rivals away from home, there is much to be pleased with.

Coventry disappoint the masses

Coventry City had sold in advance tickets for a fiver to encourage new fans to the Ricoh Arena; the attendance of 28,343 was around six times last season’s League Two average. The first-time match-goers though won’t necessarily have been enticed back, after witnessing a performance that was devoid of not only quality, but also energy and drive.

With their promotion hopes on the line in what feels like a defining period for the Sky Blues, they had 87 minutes to chase a goal after Clark put the visitors in front. They had to push for an equalizer, not only to lure new fans, but also to make it up to the more hardened supporters who travelled to watch last week’s 2-1 defeat at Forest Green.

Instead, what those fans got was ponderous long-ball football, which didn’t suit the strengths of 5”10’ forward Marc McNulty. Mark Robins’ men fell further behind on the hour mark as once again, Chris Stokes allowed his man to get one-on-one and put the game to bed.

Centre-back Rod McDonald faced criticism for his performance but him and his partner, Jordan Willis, largely kept the visiting front two quiet. The duo were perhaps unlucky that Accrington took both their chances, bringing to light imperfections that might otherwise have been forgotten.

Further forward, Maxime Biamou put himself about with typical enthusiasm but suffered from a lack of support. Bright substitute Kyel Reid put in a couple of decent left-wing crosses to the back-post, one of which led to a headed opportunity that half-time arrival Peter Vincente might have done better with.

Otherwise, Coventry did little to draw potential new fans – or excite the hardcore faithful.

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