TOTT Preview – Accrington Stanley v Newcastle United
The Toon open their Carling Cup campaign as they did the Premier League, with a trip to a famous club in the North West. Can they do better this time?
Accrington has a historic place in English football, a team representing the town being among the 12 founder clubs of the original Football League way back in 1888. The original Accrington resigned from the league 5 years later, shortly before Newcastle entered the league.
The original Accrington were then absorbed into the Stanley Arms side, playing in the Lancashire Combination from the turn of the century, and forming a part of the new expanded league from 1921, in the 3rd Division North. They finally resigned from the 4th Division mid season in 1962 before dissolving totally in January 1966.
The third reincarnation has proved luckier, after forming in 1968. Their route to the Football League has seen them collect 7 titles as champions of their divisions, the latest seeing them promoted to in 2006, ironically replacing Oxford United, the team who took the league place of the previous Accrington Stanley.
Stanley started to establish a cup tradition last season, reaching the 4th round of the FA Cup, putting up a fierce fight against Fulham. On the way, they beat a club managed by former Newcastle full back, Mark Stimson, as well as the club Stimson is now managing, Barnet.
After an unbeaten start to this campaign, Stanley will undoubdtedly provide a strong challenge again, having already gone past Doncaster, who the Toon beat twice last season by the odd goal. Their most recent match was a strong 3-0 win over Macclesfield Town, formerly managed by Paul Ince, and the highly respected Keith Alexander who the footballing public paid tribute to last February.
The manager in charge of Stanley this evening is John Coleman, in place since 1999. That makes him one of the longest serving managers currently in the leagues, which might seem bizarre after his playing days in non-league football representing at least 11 clubs and the England semi-pro team. In the process he scored over 500 goals.
It is hardly surprising that Coleman has put together a team with attacking intent. However, Stanley have also proved miserly in defence so far. The goalkeeping choice is between, Polish/Aussie Cisak, who played in the last round against Doncaster, conceding 1 goal, or the man with only clean sheets this year, Ian Dunbavin, who will be remembered as being the man who was convicted in the brawl when Steven Gerrard was acquitted.
The back line is expected to include the experienced Sean Hessey, once of Wigan and Blackpool, with the younger Bateson, rejected by Blackburn and with some league experience at Bradford. Making up the quartet will be another Blackburn reserve, Phil Edwards, with his former Blackburn reserve colleague Jonothan Bateson on the other flank.
There is likely to be a five man midfield, controlled by captain Andrew Proctor who has made over 250 appearances for the club. Most of the rest are former colleagues of Newcastle`s Danny Guthrie in Liverpool reserves, Jimmy Ryan, Charlie Barnett and Ray Putteril.
Winger, scorer of a hat trick last weekend, Sean McConville will certainly pose a threat. He was prolific at Skelmersdale United, and will support lone front man, either Craig Lindfield, who also played with Guthrie, or Rory Boulding.
Hughton is likely to rotate his squad, with a strong side to combat the confident home team. Tim Krul may be expected to put in a similar performance to his Palermo debut. In front of him, Ryan Taylor will probably start at right back, with England stalwart, Campbell in the middle. Tavernier could fit in at either central defence or left back, with Perch also a possibility to show his flexibility and Kadar also available.
Lua Lua and Donaldson are tipped to start wide, with Guthrie hoping for a recall to prove his fitness against a number of former Liverpool reserve colleagues. Youngster in demand, Vuckic, will also hope to play.
Up front, Hughton has an array of riches, starting with Lovenkrands who has also yet to start this season, but with an impressive home scoring record last year. Ameobi has Micky Quinn in his sights as 11th top post war scorer, with Nile Ranger also having a point to prove. Xisco would relish a chance to prove himself up front too.
Referee for the evening is Rob Shoebridge, best known for a lapse in not spotting the ball hit the net for Palace at Bristol City last season. His only Newcastle game was a home draw with QPR. His 4 matches involving Stanley have all been home wins, twice at the Crown Ground and twice away defeats for them.
The game is certainly going to be a memorable moment in the history of both clubs, and an eye opener for some of the senior members of the visiting squad, who are likely to start on the bench. Stanley will put up a fight, whilst the Toon will hope to be the first away winners at the Crown Ground since their own cup bogey team, Hereford, way back in April