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Stanley 2 Bristol Rovers 1

22 October 2013

Accrington Stanley picked up their first league win of the season, coming from a goal down to beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 at the Store First Stadium.

James Beattie named an unchanged starting XI from the 0-0 draw with Oxford United with new signing George Bowerman immediately placed on the substitutes bench.

The visitors started brightly and had two chances to open the scoring within the opening few minutes.

Ryan Brunt's quick free-kick released Ellis Harrison down the right-hand side and his pace allowed him to get the better of Tom Aldred, who slipped as he challenged the forward. Harrison pulled the ball across the face of goal but the resultant shot was deflected behind for a corner by Dean Winnard.

From the corner, John Joe O'Toole found himself free at the near post but he could only put his header over the bar.

It proved to be temporary respite from the early Bristol Rovers onslaught for Stanley as the Gas took the lead with their next attack.

Alex Henshall's harmless cross looked to be a routine catch for Marcus Bettinelli, but the ball went through the goalkeeper's grasp and into the back of the net to gift Rovers the lead after five minutes. It was a horrible moment for the man of the match from Saturday's draw with Oxford.

Aldred had Stanley's first sight of goal following a long throw from Nicky Hunt but he could only produce an air shot to the despair of the home supporters.

Henshall then saw his shot from the edge of the area deflected into side netting before Stanley equalised against the run of play after being on the back foot for the opening quarter of an hour.

Peter Murphy's pass was taken in his stride by James Gray and the Northern Ireland under-21 international composed himself before finishing coolly across Steve Mildenhall to get the home side on level terms after 18 minutes.

The goal seemed to inject confidence into Stanley with Kal Naismith's foray inside and subsequent shot from range showing that the confidence was manifesting itself into the performance.

Stanley were in the ascendancy and a quick counter-attack ended with the lively Gray's cross-come-shot being tipped over by Mildenhall as the home side looked to make the most of their dominance.

The comeback was completed on 29 minutes when Danny Webber's lay-off found Naismith, who arrowed his shot into the bottom left corner for his first goal in English football.

The set-piece deliveries of Lee Naylor were proving invaluable and almost resulted in Accrington doubling their lead on two occasions.

First, Webber's glancing header was off-target before Aldred nodded wide from close range after another fantastic cross from the experienced left-back.

Webber had the final chance of the half but his shot from an acute angle was turned behind the post by Mildenhall as Stanley went into the break with a slender one-goal lead.

Stanley were still the better side after half-time with Gray breaking into the area but he was expertly tackled as he was about the pull the trigger. The ball fell to Webber who could only rifle into side-netting.

Nicky Hunt made a rare break forward into the Bristol half from right back and slipped in Webber but Mildenhall was quick off his line to smother the shot.

A late challenge from Harrison on Naismith resulted in handbags from both sides with the forward fortunate to only be booked for the rash challenge.

Naylor then went close with free-kick from 20 yards which was palmed over by Mildenhall as it headed towards the top-right corner.

Rovers responded as Tom Lockyer fired a shot in from distance but fortunately for Stanley a deflection took it wide of Bettinelli's goal.

Webber, still looking for match fitness after returning from a hamstring injury, was replaced by Will Hatfield as James Beattie looked to make his side more compact in the closing stages of the game.

The Gas had struggled to create chances in the second half but Eliot Richards almost found an equaliser with five minutes left on the clock as his shot clipped the top of the crossbar.

Five minutes were added on by the referee but they passed by trouble-free as Stanley made it 13th time lucky to record their first win of the season.

Report By Sam Robinson


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