With 12 goals shipped in their last three matches, the latest defensive horror show coming in a 5-1 defeat at a misfiring Oxford side, John Coleman could have cause for concern. Routinely punching above their weight under the guidance of Coleman, it remains to be seen whether the experienced Stanley manager can improve a defence that has leaked 19 goals in just 10 matches so far.
The manner in which Accrington have shipped these goals is out of Coleman’s hands however, very often an individual error that gets punished. When you’re facing up against Wigan and Oxford, who have renown goalscorers in Wyke and Taylor respectively, it’s going to be hard to stop the ball from ending up in your net even if errors don’t occur.
Coleman spoke to the Lancashire Telegraph to address the aforementioned Oxford clash, the 5-1 loss an unfair reflection: “Oxford were the better team but I thought we actually played quite well, and I know that sounds strange after losing 5-1. They were just clinical in front of goal, whereas we kept making individual errors which are costing us goals. We gifted them at least three goals.”
This charitable defending needs to be addressed, Accrington more than confident in scoring through in-form striker Colby Bishop, but a worrying trend is emerging at the back. Coleman commended Oxford’s clinical streak, at the expense of his own team: “But you have to take your hat off to how well Oxford did finish them and they were ruthless in front of goal. They haven’t won in their last four matches but they could have won all four because they missed the chances. They didn’t miss them tonight and that was the difference.”
Not one to just list off compliments of the opposition, John Coleman is confident he can reinvigorate his struggling Accrington defence. With three home matches on the bounce – Ipswich and Fleetwood in the league, with a Papa John’s Trophy game against Leicester U21’s in-between – time is of the essence to regain confidence.
Coleman was vocal in working with his struggling defenders to find a solution, instead of publicly hanging them out to dry: “So how do you stop that? You can’t leave nine players out. You have just got to keep going, keep working hard on the training ground. But we’re not scared of hard work, and your luck will change if you get back to basics and you work hard enough.”
With errors Accrington’s undoing, a back-to-basics approach might be the wisest move.
With Coleman’s two spells as Stanley manager spanning over 20 years, he is the right man to get Accrington up and running again. Occupying a respectable 12th position so far, the defensive horror shows aren’t proving too costly at the moment. Address these errors now, and Accrington should remain relatively unscathed.
The worry is if these issues continue, with teams such as Ipswich below Stanley bound for a resurgence. Still, with Coleman’s guidance working wonders at The Wham Stadium usually, you would expect a more resilient Accrington side to come to the surface in the next few matches.