Ten-man Stanley suffer late heartache
STEVENAGE manager Graham Westley dismissed the myth it’s an advantage playing against ten men after his side failed to beat Accrington Stanley, who played 88 minutes a man down.
Boro missed a golden opportunity to take another huge step towards the League Two play-offs after Nicky Hunt was sent off 90 seconds into proceedings at the Store First Stadium.
A late Chris Beardsley goal salvaged a point for the away side, but Westley was adamant that playing a man up is just as hard as playing 11 against 11.
“Ten men is a myth, we all know that,” said Westley.
“It takes one player to put the ball in the net and we know that teams with ten can often react with steely, determined, gritty performances.
“Our front six was better than their back six. The two goals we scored says that, but I think their front three was better than our back four – we ought to have done better defensively.
“It was an afternoon where they worked very hard, it was a difficult pitch to be constructive on, and they had two banks of four, and pace and quality on the counter attack.”
Accrington had started disastrously when Nicky Hunt was dismissed for grabbing Stevenage striker Charlie Lee round the throat.
But despite being out- numbered Stanley took the lead, Josh Windass brilliantly beating his man before finding Sean Maguire who finished neatly.
Four minutes later though, Tom Pett’s cross struck a Lloyd Jones flailing arm and Simon Walton levelled from the penalty spot for his fifth goal of the season.
However, West Ham loanee Maguire continued to be a constant thorn in Stevenage’s side, latching onto the end of a neat Luke Joyce pass to give Stanley a half-time lead.
Stevenage showed far more life after the break, and Stanley’s resilience was cruelly undone right at the end, as Beardsley stabbed home a Bira Dembele knockdown from a yard.
Despite the late goal, Accrington boss John Coleman was delighted with the way his players had applied themselves, but remained baffled by Hunt’s dismissal.
“I didn’t see the incident,” said Coleman.
“But anyone who knows Nicky knows he isn’t a violent person.
“He is an experienced professional and he’s not going to punch someone 90 seconds into a game.
“We were fantastic. We’ve got players coming off telling us we were the better team by miles and players tend not to lie.
“I’m just disappointed we couldn’t hang on for the win.”
STAR MAN SEAN MAGUI