Accrington Stanley confident of change in fortunes

Paul Stephenson (right) with boss James Beattie

Paul Stephenson (right) with boss James Beattie

First published in Sport

ACCRINGTON Stanley may be suffering a repeat of last year’s slow start to the season, but assistant manager Paul Stephenson hopes one win will again transform the club’s fortunes.

The Reds had been determined to commence the new campaign in strong fashion this time around after having to play catch-up last term, when their first league win did not come until late October.

But Stanley go into tonight’s League Two clash at Shrewsbury Town having lost their opening three games of the season, albeit one of them coming against Championship opposition in the Capital One Cup at Leeds United.

James Beattie’s side never looked back after securing their first win last season, eventually finishing 15th in the table, and Stephenson hopes it will be the same situation this time.

“You never know in football but you do hope that will be the case, that we’ll get our first win and the confidence that breeds within the lads can kick us on and we can have a run like we did last season,” he said.

“There was very little between ourselves and one of the strong favourites for the division in Southend in our first game, without us creating enough chances.

“Leeds away was a tale of two halves, we tinkered with the formation a bit and it worked.

“Then we tried that formation down at Cheltenham and it worked in good parts, but other bits need working on. We finished strongly again and could have nicked a draw.

“We could have had a couple of draws and two points on the board but we haven’t, we’ve just been on the wrong side of a couple of penalties really.

“A lot of teams are having a right good go this year, and mainly a lot of the teams we’re playing early on so we knew it was going to be a tough start.

“We’re a bit disappointed but the lads have got to stay positive.

“You can’t affect the past but you can affect the future.”

Captain Luke Joyce, a virtual ever present in recent seasons, has missed the last two games through injury and remains a doubt together with defenders Adam Buxton and Michael Liddle.

Joyce’s absence has seen Stanley experiment with three central defenders in the second half at Leeds and then in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Cheltenham, when Kal Naismith missed an injury time penalty.

Asked whether Joyce and Stanley’s other injury worries may be fit enough to feature tonight, Stephenson said: “We’ve just got to wait and see, it’s too early in the season to be pushing people.

“If there were four games left they’d play every game but with 44 games left it’s a case of making sure we keep them for more of the games.

“We were a little bit forced into the change of formation because of injuries, Luke Joyce is a key player for us.

“When you’re playing a team like Cheltenham who are big lads, we felt playing that system would give us a bit more height on the pitch and allow us to compete at set plays and that proved so.

“But when we changed it a little bit in the last 25 minutes it was very positive for us as well.

“When you’ve had a disappointment like we had on Saturday you don’t want to wait a week, I didn’t want to as a player and I’m sure the lads don’t want to either, they want to get it out of their system and try to get the first few points on the board.

“We haven’t got much of a scouting system, that’s a very difficult side of it, but we’ll get what we can on Shrewsbury and try to be well organised and difficult to beat.

“We are away from home so we’ll make sure we stay in the game and when we get our chances we’ll try to take them.”

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