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INTERVIEW: Last season's EFL Trophy loss still hurts says Coley

Reds kick off new campaign at home to Carlisle

4 September 2023


INTERVIEW: Last season's EFL Trophy loss still hurts says Coley

Reds kick off new campaign at home to Carlisle

4 September 2023

John Coleman admits last season’s EFL Trophy semi-final defeat still hurts – but he is hoping his Accrington Stanley side can go one step further this time.

The Reds lost to eventual winners Bolton Wanderers at the Wham Stadium in the last four stage, but had Sean McConville sent off early in the game and lost Liam Coyle to a head injury.

Stanley begin their campaign again with League One side Carlisle the visitors tomorrow night in the first Northern Group C game.

"I have never tried to hide the fact I like this competition," said Coleman. "It gives you good opportunities for everybody and obviously the big prize is getting to Wembley.

"I try and win every game I play in it. We won’t be dismissive of it.

"I still think we were robbed last season and nothing will change that view.

"I thought we played well in the semi-final with ten men for a long period.

"On another day, if the decisions had balanced out, it could have been a better outcome.

"But every season we seem to get closer and hopefully we will go all the way this season."

Coleman may shake up his starting XI to give others a chance and also rest a few players as they challenge at the top in the League Two campaign - he signed midfielder Ben Woods on transfer deadline day.

"What we are doing is trying to manage our squad the best we can for the long season ahead of us.

"We have got some young lads who are keen to grasp the mettle and Ben comes in as one of them. There is good competition in there now.

"It’s an opportunity for them to play for Accrington Stanley first team, a professional football club.

"We have some really good lads who are desperate to break into the first team and you see it every day in training.

"Some lads have grasped the opportunities in the EFL Trophy in the past and stayed in the first team because of it.

"But it’s all about one game at a time. I have to be mindful of what I am doing in the league, we had a tough game on Saturday at Notts County.

"There are positives to take from the game in that we are starting to impose a style of football the players and staff are comfortable with.

"Hopefully we will improve on it and these games will help us tidy it up, refine it and make it better and make sure we keep playing this type of football that we know can be successful in this league."

Carlisle went up to League One via the Play-Offs last season and Coleman is relishing locking horns with Paul Simpson again.

"It will be a challenging game. Paul Simpson is one of the good guys in football.

"I am enthralled in what he has done with Carlisle, taking them from when they were languishing near the bottom to getting them competing at top end of the table and promoted."

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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