John Coleman admits League One is a ‘strange league’ this season as he looks forward to returning to the Wham Stadium for Saturday’s clash with Gillingham.
The sixth placed Reds have one loss in their last 11 league games and moved into the Play-Off positions after their 2-0 win over Charlton on Friday night.
Stanley only faced 14th placed Gillingham in mid-December, winning 2-0 with goals from Colby Bishop and Dion Charles, but Coleman is preparing for a tricky game against Steve Evans’ side.
“There are a lot of teams all vying for the top six,” said the Reds boss.
“It’s a really strange league this year, there are probably 16 or 17 teams who believe they can get in the Play-Offs.
“It’s never really been like that before. Every game you play is always a challenge, the games come thick and fast and there’s very much a levelling off of standard this year.
“There is no great team and no really poor team, everyone is functional and can compete against each other and that’s why you have to pick up as many points as possible when you can.
“Steve Evans is passionate about the game and wants to win, he has been successful in his career.
“Our win in December, that will be fresh in their minds and they did come on strong in the second half so we know they pose a threat.
“We have got to try and keep on improving. The minute you step back and start smelling yourself and think you have arrived you can fall flat on your face.
“We know we can improve and there are areas we can improve on and we have broke that down and the players know that and the players are keen. It’s a great set of lads who want to work hard for themselves and for the team and everyone is pulling in the right direction trying to get success.”
Coleman made 10 changes midweek for the Papa John’s Trophy 4-0 loss at Lincoln which meant the Reds were knocked out of the competition at the last 16 stage.
“We have to break it down and analyse what went wrong, we do a lot of work tactically so all the players knew their jobs but it didn’t quite work on Tuesday.
“They were a lot stronger and sharper than us, they were better than us.
“I don’t want to detract from our playing squad because we have got good players in there, possibly because they haven’t played together for a while showed but we know we have got to do better all over the park and we will strive to do that.
“We still wanted to win the game and people might say making 10 changes that we didn’t want to but you can see by some of the reactions of the players that we wanted to win.
“However, we are mindful of the fact that we have a massive game on Saturday and this is now our priority so we will learn from what happened on Tuesday but we won’t dwell on it, we will focus on getting it right for Saturday.”
Coleman is still working on getting a couple of new players in during the January transfer window.
“There will be twists and turns throughout the season, there will be injuries and suspensions and that’s why we want to add to the squad if possible before the window shuts.
“But we won’t be doing it for the sake of doing it. People have got to come in and compete for the places like the players who are already here.
“Tommy Allan has gone back to Newcastle and Mo Sangare is injured so there is one spare place for a loan player but we will do what’s right for the club.”
Matt Butcher picked up an injury on Tuesday and is battling to be fit for Saturday while Ross Sykes comes back into the frame.
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!