TO say Accrington Stanley struggled at the start of last season would be a gross understatement.

Twelve games without a league win left the Reds with an uphill battle in James Beattie’s first season as manager.

A League Cup scalp over Middlesbrough was the only highlight in the first few miserable weeks.

They came close to an upset at Leeds United in the same competition on Tuesday night after putting up an impressive fightback in response to their 2-0 half-time deficit with a goal from James Gray.

It proved little more than a consolation in the end.

But Beattie says he would accept their exit if it meant more points on the board in August, and bouncing back quickly from a late opening day defeat at home to Southend.

“You hear everyone up and down the country, no matter what level they’re at it’s always important to get points on the board early. It’s always important,” he said, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Cheltenham.

“As we well know that wasn’t the case last season for what seemed like a long time, but after getting our first win we got momentum and confidence to go onto the pitch and get results.

“But I can see that’s there already this year.

“I sense that win will come sooner rather than later this season, and hopefully with all the work we’ll put in between now and three o’clock on Saturday it will come this weekend.

“I don’t think the first win will be as long time coming this year.

“The positives we can take out of Tuesday night’s performance are huge – it’s not every day we’ll face a team like Leeds United.

“They shifted the ball well in the first half and they caused us problems. Unfortunately for us we were 2-0 down at half-time.

“There are things that we need to work on, the way the goals arose, there are technical things we can work on that will help shore up the defence.

“One of the things we prided ourselves on last year when we went on the good run was our defensive record and we haven’t quite been up to that standard as yet this season.”

Stanley recorded an important 2-1 win on the road to League Two survival the last time they were at Whaddon Road.

“It would be a great repeat if we could do that,” Beattie added.

“Cheltenham had a fantastic result on the first day of the season (beating Bury) and we’ll have to be on our game, as we always are.”

Beattie must assess his squad for injuries before naming his side to face the Robins.

“Joycey (Luke Joyce) is still struggling, Nicky (Hunt) might be okay but we’ll have to assess him over the next couple of days. Michael Liddle’s picked up an injury and Andrew Dawber is out with a medial ligament strain,” he said.

“There are all sorts of knocks from the other night because there were a few tackles flying around. Thankfully Will Hatfield is not in two pieces. If anybody’s not seen the tackle I suggest you look at it.

“It was totally unprovoked and it was one of the strangest tackles and aggressive tackles I’ve seen – reminiscent somewhat of the mad monk’s tackle in Mean Machine a few years ago.

“Tackles like that have no place on a football pitch, but considering everyone’s okay it is quite humorous when you look back at it.”