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INTERVIEW: Coley hopes to make more good memories at Exeter

Reds boss will stay calm in relegation battle

23 March 2023


INTERVIEW: Coley hopes to make more good memories at Exeter

Reds boss will stay calm in relegation battle

23 March 2023

John Coleman hopes going to Exeter City can spark his Accrington Stanley side into more magical moments, as it did in January 2006.

Then Stanley went to Exeter, one of their promotion rivals, live on Sky on a Monday night, and won 3-1 and Coleman admitted it was a big result in the Reds clinching the Conference title and promotion back to the EFL.

Stanley, with nine games left, are currently locked in a League One relegation battle, fourth from bottom of the table, and Coleman hopes St James Park will be a happy hunting ground again for the Reds on Saturday for a much-needed win.

The Grecians are in 13th place in the table – 11 points ahead of Stanley with a game in hand.

“Exeter have done well, we know the type of football Gary Caldwell will play and we know it will be tough,” said Coleman.

“But Exeter away is very much imprinted in our folklore, it took us onto great things and hopefully it can kick us onto great things this season.”

Stanley have lost their last three games and suffered six red cards since February while Tommy Leigh was banned retrospectively and Liam Coyle, Harvey Rodgers and Doug Tharme all picked up 10 yellow cards and have sat out two games.

Coleman knows the statistics don’t make good reading and it’s something he is looking to change – starting with himself.

“It’s been a really difficult season and, over the last years, I have altered my approach.

“I have tried to calm down and not let things get on top of me.

“I was doing well, I barely would move from my spot in the technical area but, over the last six weeks, whether it’s the pressure of being where we are and the results and injuries, I have found myself going back to how I was 20 years ago.

“I am too animated, complaining about everything, going to the fourth official too often, getting het up with the decision going against us. That might be fuelling the fire.

“Everyone is looking at our disciplinary record and thinking we are a dirty team.

“When you look at the sendings off, it was handball for Harvey Rodgers, two one-on-ones for Lukas Jensen and mistimed challenges, not dirty,  Sean McConville lifted his leg but it was not a lunge or stamp or a vicious kick.

“Mo Sangare’s two yellows, neither are fouls, but the perception now is that Accrington are trying to get by by being physical and kicking people. We are not.

“I have to make the extra effort to take my aggression out of the equation which might be fuelling the fire subconsciously, making officials think we are dirty or that I am aggressive or belligerent.

“I have got to calm down basically. I have to control myself more and if I can show the players I can do that, it should set a good example.”

Coleman admits Stanley can’t look back now and all they can do is learn from the last three games and look ahead to the final nine encounters.

“For the second week running, we have played a team in the top seven with ten men and took the game to them for 25 minutes and pinned them back. If we can keep doing that with 11 men we have a chance.

“I am proud of the effort the lads are putting in. We don’t have the ability to go and sign proven players but we have grown some great players.

“A big plus in last couple of weeks is that I have seen Tommy Leigh grow up as a man and a footballer, he is now a proper player. In his last three games I think he has been superb and he is only going to get better. If he can start adding some goals to that, that will help us along the way.”

There has been a boost in the treatment room as, although Sangare is away with Liberia, Liam Coyle and Ethan Hamilton are both pencilled into be back for the Easter weekend. Tharme is suspended for the trip to Exeter.

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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