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INTERVIEW: A big ask but we have defied the odds before says Coley

Reds going all-out for win at Play-Off chasing Bolton

24 April 2023


INTERVIEW: A big ask but we have defied the odds before says Coley

Reds going all-out for win at Play-Off chasing Bolton

24 April 2023

John Coleman knows it’s a ‘big ask’ to keep Accrington Stanley in League One – but they have defied the odds many times since he arrived as manager in 1999 and he believes they can do it again.

The 23rd placed Reds are three points adrift from safety with three games to play and they take on Play-Off chasing Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium tomorrow night.

They then have two games against their relegation rivals Cambridge United and Oxford United as they battle to prolong their five years in League One.

The Reds have won just two of their last 12 games – and lost nine – but Coleman was gutted it was a chance that got away after they lost narrowly 1-0 to Portsmouth on Saturday.

“The truth is we should be dead and buried but we are not,” said the Reds boss. “We haven’t won anywhere near enough games, certainly at home, and we have found a way to lose games that we should be winning.

“We should have won on Saturday and the least we should have taken is a point. The one good thing is we are still alive and have an opportunity to do something about it. It’s a big ask but big asks have been done before.”

He continued: “I struggled to get the game out of my head on Saturday night, I kept going to the goal and the chances we have missed and the opportunity we have passed up. That was a glorious opportunity with the way the results went, Morecambe took their chance, we should have taken ours and that would have put us right in the mix with three strong games coming up and would have give us a bit of breathing space.

“We have no breathing space now but we are still alive and we still have to fight and believe.”

The Reds have played fifth placed Bolton twice this season, losing 3-2 in the league and 2-0 in Papa Johns Trophy semi-final, after Sean McConville was sent off early on. Wanderers still have plenty to play for to secure their Play-Off spot.

“The first time we played Bolton, we were 2-0 up and then we capitulated in half an hour and fair play to them they played really well in the second half.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose the cup game, playing so long with ten men, so we know we can compete with them, we have to find a way to trouble them going forward.

“What has plagued us this season is our defending as a team – and we as coaches take responsibility for that as we set them up – we have conceded too many goals but the brutal truth is our goals for column has killed us.

“For the chances we had to not score on Saturday, just one goal would have given us a point which would have been a massive step forward, and made the mathematics a little in our favour, so that’s the thing we have to address.

“We have to start putting the ball in the net which puts teams under pressure the way we have been getting put under pressure. We have made some glorious chances and we have got to believe we can take them.

“We are all responsible for where we are now and I have to take the brunt of it because I am the manager. We just haven’t been able to cope with the amount of injuries we have had and the unexpected impact of suspensions and that’s the brutal fact. Players have been missing for big parts of the season.”

While a point will help Stanley's survival hopes at Bolton, he knows the focus is on three points.

“We won’t be going for the draw, it’s not in our nature. If we go for the draw, we will get battered so we have to compete and nick a goal and then I think the game is there to be won and we have to believe we can win.

“We have surprised lots of people in the past so if we win tomorrow it won’t be a surprise for me. I know if we get it right we are capable of beating anyone in this league. We just haven’t had it right anywhere near enough the amount of times we have wanted to this season.

“It's got to be all hands to the pump and hopefully we will get there. Hopefully we will have the best ten days of our career here and stay in League One, we will fight all the way.”

Liam Coyle is suspended while top scorer Tommy Leigh ‘popped’ his shoulder at Portsmouth and is out for the remaining three games. Captain Seamus Conneely could return to action after missing the last nine games through injury.

The full pre-match interview with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!

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