We like Accrington Stanley. For some reason they have this inate ability to concede goals against us. It doesn’t matter whether Rochdale’s performance is good, bad, or in between; Accrington will lose.
Looking over to the Willbutts Lane stand, Stanley had brought some fans. Not very many mind. It seemed once again that the fan-to-flag ratio was roughly 3:1. Twenty minutes drive away and they bring about 400? Pride of Lancashire my arse. The Accrington fans that did turn up won’t have found their welcome warm, the neo-fascist Spotland stewards confiscated their flags and spent ninety minutes ordering them to “sitten sie down!”. Achtung! Achtung! Atmosphere alert!
Rochdale lined up as you would expect, if not as you would hope; Sammy Russell kept goal behind Wiseman, McArdle, Stanton and Kennedy; Will Buckley returned the the team alongside Toner, Keltie and Rundle in midfield, whilst Alfie started ahead of Dagnall beside Lee McEvilface. Still no space for Mark Jones then; he numbed his arse on the bench with Spencer, Daggers, Ramsden and Higginbotham.
Accrington started brightly; Paul Mullin leading the line with the impressive Miles just behind. Number 11 Grant also stood out as a tidy ball player, and it was these three who ran the game in the first half. The latter missed an absolute sitter early in the game when played in by Mullin at the left, his off-balance shot didn’t even force Russell into a save. Dale’s keeper was made to move by Paul Mullin though not long after when the big bonce headed downwards from five yards. Hanging on to nil-nil I can accept, but against Accrington?
Turns out they’re really good Accrington, but never win, kind of like a reverse Wycombe. Procter, Ryan, Miles, Grant, Mullin, King; why are they 19th in the league exactly?
Only thing Accrington lacked was real incisive pace, which luckily was something Dale’s right side have in abundance. Will Buckley grabbed the ball in the 22nd minute, floated past one, two, and three before being tripped by four. In that space of time he’d ran a good 40 yards into the centre of the penalty area and ref Colin “that bloody idiot” Webster had no choice but to let Adam le Fondre score another penalty. Indeed throughout the entire game the only thing that stood out for Dale was the direct, effective Buckley, and ultimately it was him who decided the game. So much for football being a team sport. 1-0 Dale.
Straight from the kick-off though, Stanley got a deserved goal. Well two actually. The first was bizarrely ruled out by ref Webster when his eagle-eyed vision spotted a foul in the build-up… for Accrington, that is. This silliness mattered not though, as Peter Cavanagh curled the free-kick into the top left-hand corner of the Sandy net via a slight deflection from the Dale wall. A warranted 1-1.
Still Dale never really found their feet in the first half, and Accrington were unlucky to finish the half on level terms. In the interval Mr. Kirby had a go at the crossbar challenge and was rubbish at it, a bloke called Chris was even worse. Still, a highly successful crossbar challenge this week, in that somebody actually got up to compete in it. Pete on the Pitch must be so proud.
Back to the game, and Dale improved at the start of the second period, Clark Keltie had a corner and Lee McEvilly had a shot. It may not sound much, but it was an equal to Dale’s first half efforts. Accrington, however, were still passing the ball well and threatening the goal, Proctor tested Russell whilst Miles had one blocked from McArdle. But once again, Prince William Buckley provided that bit of extra class, that extra touch of quality which saw Dale go one ahead. On 55, Rundle, down the left, scuttered a ball along the ground into the box and Buckley broke ahead of the defender to sidefoot into the Sandy net. 2-1 Dale. I could scarcely believe Dale’s luck. Buckley you are something else.
Accrington puffed and panted for another twenty minutes, but couldn’t find the space for a clean shot on target. They had about twenty penalty appeals, all turned down and all ridiculously hopeful. Still, you cannot blame them for being annoyed with the referee; even if he did nowt much wrong. It just wasn’t their day. We like Accrington.
Still further bad news for those travelling Stanleyheads (what did they do to deserve this?) as sub Kallum Higginbotham, who spells his name with a K, received a pass from Dagnall (also a sub), and coolly finished past goalie Dunbavin with less than five minutes remaining. Poor poor Stanley. Higgy did not mind, and ran fully 50 yards to hug the management team. A meaningless goal against a side who are already beaten and tiring? WOOHOOOO!
And so the game was won, a much-needed win I might add, and with little or no attacking effort being required. Buckley’s value rises with each performance. As for Accrington Stanley? They come away from home, play efficient, attacking football, and get beat 3-1. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere.
Attendance: A few more than normal
Superstars: One (W. Buckley)
Written by Matt Boothman on 3rd Jan 09.