When Barnet’s Edgar Davids clattered into Accrington Stanley forward James Beattie on a sloping pitch in North London, the next morning’s headlines sounded out before the Dutch superstar was even shown red.
The charming irony of what was a minor event notwithstanding - the true story of the game was one of great frustration for the Reds. A much improved Stanley team gave a good all-round performance away from home but were done over by mind-boggling decisions from the officials. A penalty given for an innocuous foul in the box was followed by a splendid Ian Dunbavin save, yet the willingness of the men in charge to make the most of their star subjects saw the penalty re-taken and a goal given. Two points were dropped despite a convincing Stanley performance and that bitterness followed into the early week.
A Lancashire derby is always a place to right wrongs and a tactical masterstroke from Leam Richardson ensured our requital away at Fleetwood Town. Granting James Beattie his first start in a Stanley shirt alongside the in-form Rommy Boco meant that problems were caused all evening for the home defence. The swings-and-roundabouts nature of the beautiful game gave Stanley some much needed retribution as a debatable penalty shout this time went in favour of the Reds. After that, Stanley were rampant. Football played the right way – the Stanley way – all over the park conjured chance after chance for the Red men.
To play in such an impressive way and to be so convincing in victory against a high flying team with plentiful resources must give a tremendous amount of confidence to the Stanley players. Leam Richardson has breathed life into a team which a few weeks ago looked bereft of ideas.
The hope is that this confidence will spill over into the next fixture as we host Gillingham at home. Mad-as-a-brush manager Martin Allen has made league leaders out of his side but Stanley have shown the ability to match any team in this division.
On, Stanley, On.