McConville on target as Stanley sink Boro
Stevenage ring the changes but have no success on their travels to the north west
Accrington Stanley 1 Stevenage 0
npower League 2
THERE was no repeat of Tuesday night’s heroics at the Crown Ground as Boro slumped to their first league defeat since the start of October.
A Sean McConville goal midway through the second half gave the hosts the lead, and it was a result which fairly represented the action on show as Accrington put in a spirited display for their first win in seven matches.
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Although this game came just five days after their dispatching of MK Dons in the FA Cup on Tuesday, there were no signs of fatigue on show for Boro.
In fact, come 90 minutes Stevenage were the ones doing the running, but it was Stanley who were able register a legitimate goal and Boro were not.
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Graham Westley, without the suspended Jon Ashton, reshuffled his pack after Tuesday’s drama and made five changes to his side.
Luke Foster came in for Ashton, while Ronnie Henry, Jay O’Shea and Chris Holroyd all started.
Darius Charles, who got the equaliser after coming off the bench against the Dons, replaced Scott Laird and his superb display at left-back will leave Laird, who struggled on Tuesday, wondering whether he’s due a prolonged spell on the bench.
Up front was where Boro failed to shine, with Chris Beardsley, making his second consecutive start, and Holroyd struggling for chances.
With muscle counting for more than inspiration in the middle of the park, it was left to the two strikers to work the channels where they were forced to feed off scraps of hopefuls balls rather than the creative and precise passing Boro fans have become accustomed to seeing in recent months.
Accrington just edged the game, and they should have been ahead on just six minutes but Boro goalkeeper Chris Day stood in their way.
With Boro’s players pushing upfield the home side launched a counter-attack through the bullish Ray Putterill who sent the ball out to McConville on the left. The winger, making his way to the edge of the box, dragged the ball across the penalty area and Putterill, continuing his run, hit his shot low.
With cat-like reflexes, Day dropped to his right and got a strong hand behind the ball which Putterill couldn’t hit a second time as the ball rolled to him and it was cleared.
The first half saw few chances, but those that were created often fell to the Accrington players.
Boro skipper Mark Roberts, an ex-Accrington player, put in a last-ditch tackle to deny Andrew Procter a free shot at goal and James Ryan shot straight at Day, while Boro’s Lawrie Wilson forced a save from Ian Dunbavin at his near post.
Three minutes before the break Terry Gornell hooked a shot over his shoulder which Day held, and O’Shea, a minute later, shot over from 20 yards but Dunbavin had it covered.
Charles looked Boro’s most effective player, and at times Stanley didn’t know how to deal with his marauding runs forward through the centre of the pitch.
More importantly, when his attacks broke down he was quick to recover his position and Stanley got little change from him all game and spent muc of their time attacking Henry at right-back,
Boro were lively at the start of the second half and Phil Edwards had to head a Beardsley cross clear with Holroyd closing in behind him, but then the Boro striker then became embroiled in two pushing matches which involved every player on the pitch apart from Day.
Quite how no player was booked – and how Michael Bostwick escaped a yellow card moments later for a high push – was anyone’s guess.
Boro were looking better and Holroyd put the ball in the back of the net on 66 minutes, only for Beardsley to be adjudged to have fouled Sean Hessey in the build-up.
A minute later Accrington went ahead. James Ryan it was who provided the cross and McConville the finish with a superb flick past the diving Day.
On balance it was just about right, but Boro were soon back at the other end with Beardsley seeing a snap-shot saved by the home keeper.
On came Yemi Odubade and David Bridges, although the latter, written on the teamsheet as ‘David Bridles’, was announced as such but he was in no mood to horse around and was soon in the thick of the action.
Boro continued to push forward, but as they did gaps started to appear at the back and Stanley substitute Andrew Parkinson went closest when he curled an effort goallwards from the edge of the box only to see it stray wide by a yard.
Bridges twice tried his luck from distance, to no effect, and just second before the final whistle Holroyd sliced a rushed shot inside the box high and wide only to be blown offside.
Boro weren’t poor, Stanley weren’t that good, but it was the hosts who took all three points.
Stevenage will be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes when they welcome Southend United to the Lamex on Tuesday evening.
Accrington (4-2-3-1): Dunbavin 7, Winnard 6, Edwards 6, Hessey 7, Long 7, Procter 6, Joyce 5, Ryan 7, Putterill 7 (Parkinson, 72), McConville 8 (Owens, 90), Gornell 5. Subs: Cisak, Barnett, Lindfield, Richardson, Boulding.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Charles 8, Henry 5, Foster 6 (Bridges, 79), Roberts 7, Wilson 5, O’Shea 6, Mousinho 6 (May, 84), Bostwick 7, Holroyd 5, Beardsley 6 (Odubade, 79). Subs: Bayes, Laird, Long, Dixon.
Referee: Peter Quinn