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INTERVIEW: Coley on the final day trip to Portsmouth

'We will be going there to win," Reds boss

7 May 2021

Accrington Stanley go into their final game of an unusual League One season ready to show the Sky television viewers what they are all about.

The Reds travel to Portsmouth (KO 12pm), with six placed Pompey needing a win to secure their Play-Off spot.

They are in the driving seat but both Oxford and Charlton can overtake them if Danny Cowley’s side don’t get the three points against the Reds.

Stanley are in 13th place but can jump up the table with victory at Fratton Park and John Coleman says his players won’t take their foot off the gas.

“We have started to hit a bit of form, probably too late,” said the Reds boss. “I know the results haven’t been great but they have been acceptable and the way we are playing we would like the season to go on for a few more months.

“We will give it our best shot on Sunday, there is a lot riding on it for Portsmouth and we have to play for the integrity of the league and our pride.

“We dropped a few places with the late equaliser on Saturday against Charlton which was sickening. It will be business as usual on Sunday and we will be going there to win it.

“It’s nice to go to the big stadiums, we historically play well in the big venues. There is the added incentive that it is on television and we have got a chance to show the country how well we have done this season.

“I am still disappointed, and the lads are bitterly disappointed, that we think it’s a missed opportunity but you can’t live your life looking back.

“We will try and learn from the mistakes we made this season and try and get better for next season.”

Looking back at the Covid-hit campaign without fans, Coleman feels there is plenty to build on for when the supporters return to the Wham Stadium.

“There have been some smashing games this season – recently the second half against Sunderland, more or less the whole game against Portsmouth, the game we lost to Plymouth where we were outstanding, the character we showed against Ipswich going down to ten men and being the better team in the second half with ten men.

“Earlier in the season, there was going to Charlton and winning and beating Peterborough on the opening day of the season, there’s been some really big points in this season where we have played some terrific football.

“Lately we have begun to make chances, in the last four games we have had about 80 shots and we have started to score goals. The players look full of confidence and hopefully we can take that into next season.”

Coleman can’t single out an individual player, in a campaign where Dion Charles has scored 19 league goals; Colby Bishop has grabbed 11 while Joe Pritchard has seven goals and six assists.

“All the players have been terrific, there have been some stand-out performances. Captain Seamus Conneely seems to be getting younger, he is outstanding, he has a big influence on the side and we miss him when he is out.

“You miss Colby when he is not playing, Dion gets the headlines for his goals and he has done well.

“You could go through them. The back four have been really good, I know we have let in a lot of goals but we have some finds there certainly with Cam (Cameron Burgess) and Notts (Michael Nottingham).

“The likes of Ben Barclay and Harvey (Rodgers) probably didn’t expect to play as much as they have but they have done really well. You could go through them all.

“Joey Pritchard showed what we have been missing when he came on the other day. Hopefully we can keep most of the squad together and have a good go next year.”

He also had praise for goalkeeper Toby Savin, who came through the Academy and turned 20 this week.

“There are not many 20-year-old’s who have played the best bulk of a season in League One. Games have shown the capabilities Toby has and he is going to go on and have a terrific career, I have no doubt about that.”

Owner Andy Holt said Stanley do not have to sell any players this summer but Coleman admits that some may go, if the price is right.

“Myself and Andy are on the same page and, if we think the best business sense is to sell a player for the good of the club, that’s what we will do and it doesn’t matter who the player is.

“They are educated decisions, made with the interest of the club whereas in the past we had to sell to survive and that’s not the case anymore.

“That means you get the market value, the starting price for our top players now is well over a million.”

And Coleman admits his eye is already on the 2021/22 campaign.

“I am already making enquiries into players and hopefully get some sorted in the next couple of weeks, mainly as you want them starting pre-season with you.”

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!


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