Accrington Stanley lost narrowly to promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday – but John Coleman will be more worried the injury problems are again mounting.
The Reds boss had to substitute both Sean McConville and Joe Pritchard as Alex Mighten’s first half goal proved to be the deciding factor in an entertaining tie.
Stanley had their chances to draw level but couldn’t find the all-important equaliser as they remain just above the relegation places.
The Reds were without injured Ryan Astley while former Reds Josh Windass, Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith returned in the Wednesday line-up.
On five minutes it needed a goalline clearance to prevent the Owls taking the lead after Barry Bannan’s corner found Ihiekwe but his header was cleared off the line by Tommy Leigh.
Stanley suffered a 20th minute setback when captain and top scorer McConville was forced off injured, with Seamus Conneely replacing him on the pitch and with the skipper’s armband.
Wednesday took the lead on 24 minutes when Bannan whipped in a ball from the left, it was chested down by Smith for Mighten who rifled the ball home.
Pritchard was lively for the Reds, playing a number of tricky balls into the box which Stanley just couldn’t capitalise on.
However Wednesday continued to look dangerous although they didn’t really trouble Toby Savin with Bannan’s shot whistling past the post.
In injury time, Harvey Rodgers cleared Fisoya Dele-Bashiru’s looping ball in which had Savin beaten and with Windass waiting to pounce.
Stanley brought Rosaire Longelo on for Pritchard at the interval – hopefully not another injury.
The Reds had a go with Longelo putting a fierce ball into the box which Mitch Clark got his head to but couldn’t work David Stockdale.
At the other end, the Owls continued to press, Bannan blasting a volley wide and Windass firing over the bar.
From a goalmouth scramble at one end on 62 minutes, Stanley broke, Clark fed Shaun Whalley who raced through and only had Stockdale to beat but the keeper came out and stifled his effort.
Ethan Hamilton put a free kick just wide while Clark fired at Stockdale as the Reds went on the hunt for the equaliser.
However Savin did superbly to keep out Lee Gregory and take the ball off his feet as the substitute lined up to fire home on 75 minutes.
With only one goal, Stanley were always in it and Hamilton drilled into Stockdale’s arms, while the Owls needed a second and Dele-Bashiru blasted wide with Savin out of goal.
The Reds kept pressing, Kody Adedoyin’s shot collected by Stockdale, but couldn’t find a way through one of the meanest defences in the league.
Stanley: Savin, Clark, Tharme, Fernandes, Rodgers, Whalley (Adedoyin), Hamilton, Coyle, McConville (Conneely), Pritchard (Longelo), Leigh
Subs: Jensen, Delfouneso, Perritt, Martin
Attendance: 4938 (2620 from Sheffield)