Blackburn boys all set for a showdown
IT will be the battle of the Blackburn boys when Accrington Stanley host Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon.
The age gap between former QEGS sports star James Beattie and St Augustine’s RC High School pupil Gareth Ainsworth is too great for the pair to have crossed paths in their fledgling football days.
The duo have since gone to forge impressive careers since turning professional, and are now cutting their teeth in management with League Two clubs.
Ainsworth, who grew up in the Pleckgate area of the town, hung up his boots in the final game of last season. Beattie, who was raised in Cherry Tree, remains undecided on his future playing career for now.
“When I took the role as manager I wanted to give it my full attention,” said Beattie, 35.
“I do have moments of slight depression I call it when the lads go out on the training ground or out onto the pitch when you turn up to a stadium and the pitch looks magnificent and the fans are turning up and there’s loads of anticipation for the game.
“The moment for me is when they’ve all left the dressing room and I say ‘it’s over to you guys’.
“Gareth’s done tremendously well to play up to 40.
“He’s a local lad and I’ve seen him play for a few teams around here during my lifetime. He’s doing a great job.”
After going 12 games without a league win since the start of the season, Beattie is looking for Stanley’s third on the trot today when the Reds host Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers (kick-off 3pm).
And the former striker hopes three points will be enough to lift his side off the bottom, after beating Bristol Rovers and Morecambe last week.
“It’s about keeping our feet on the floor and not getting too giddy,” said the Stanley boss.
“We’ve had an excellent week.
“I said if we could get seven points out of the week it would change the way the table looks.
“We’re still bottom of the table but as I’ve said all along I believe there’s enough in the dressing room for that to change.
“The way we’ll do that is to keep concentration, to keep discipline and to keep working hard.
“The last few results have given the lads a bit of confidence, but we need to remain focused and our feet on the ground.”
Of his head-to-head with Ainsworth, Beattie added: “It’s always nice to see people doing well no matter where they’re from, but when they’re local and you’ve spent so much time and had so many good memories in Blackburn, which I have, you wish him good luck.
“I’m sure he’ll come in after the game for a drink and we’ll have a catch-up.
“Even last year when we were playing he’s always been very humble and down to earth and that’s just what you want from opposing managers.
“He was like that when he was a player.”
After an injury-ravaged start to the season, Beattie has selection problems with Michael Liddle and Laurence Wilson both fit.
Rob Atkinson remains sidelined with a hamstring problem, while George Miller has suffered minor ankle ligament damage.
On-loan Kayode Odejayi is available after serving a three-match ban, but Beattie warned there were no guarantees of the striker going straight back into the side.
“There are a few positive headaches to have for the selection,” he said. “Kayode will have to work his socks off to get back in the team.
“I can’t justify dropping anybody really, but he knows that.”
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