ACCRINGTON Stanley boss James Beattie has warned Newport County: ‘It’s payback time!'
The Reds opened the season by facing the Football League newcomers and went into the game full of confidence after a positive summer.
But in Beattie’s debut game in management Stanley suffered what remains their heaviest defeat of the season.
The 36-year-old insists his side have come a long way since that 4-1 loss, and are ready for revenge.
“It rankles with me but I can’t let that slip to the lads. I’ve got to remain calm and composed. But if it doesn’t get them riled then there’s maybe something wrong with them inside,” said the former Everton and England striker.
“It hurts that we got beat 4-1, it’s our heaviest defeat of the season, there is something of a payback to give them.
“I believe the players have come a long way since that first game, I know that the fans know we’ve come a long way, and that’s the most important thing for me.
“It’s important that we get back to winning football matches and I’ll be drilling that into the lads that it needs to come on Saturday.
“Newport have done really well since coming up from Conference, and I know we’ve come a long well so it bodes well for a good game.”
That first meeting with Newport was the beginning of a terrible run for the Reds, who went 12 League Two games without a win.
But an upturn in form over the last two months has lifted them out of the relegation places.
And now, ahead of the re-match with the South Wales club, Beattie has challenged his players to continue that climb.
“That Newport game never affected my confidence levels, it was me believing in a set of players, who I still believe in hugely, and getting the best out of them,” said Beattie.
“Barring the first 12 results we are averaging just under two points a game, which is championship winning form.
“Without that start we would have been in a much healthier position, and I’m going to ask the lads to repeat the last eight weeks of form in the next eight weeks.”
Stanley were frustrated to have a wasted journey to Portsmouth last weekend, with the game called off after they had already arrived on the south coast last Friday. A new date for the fixture has yet to be arranged.
But Beattie, who has fit-again defender Rob Atkinson back in contention, believes a free weekend has ultimately proved beneficial.
“It’s given us chance to get our legs back and get some more fuel in the tank,” he added.
“A few fans made their way down and were disappointed but in the long run that could be beneficial to us.
“We had a great training session down there, I gave the lads the weekend off and they’ve come back in this week and have trained really well, so I’m looking at it in a positive way.”