WE’LL SUR­PRISE A FEW!

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

WEST Ham have looked a bit shaky in their new Lon­don Sta­dium home – and Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley boss John Cole­man plans to give them another headache on Wed­nes­day night.

Stan­ley travel south for the EFL Cup third round tie in op­ti­mistic mood. They have, af­ter all, al­ready taken two de­cent scalps in the com­pe­ti­tion.

For starters, the Lan­cashire side beat League One Brad­ford City, fi­nal­ists in 2013, 11-10 on penal­ties in the first round af­ter a 0-0 draw.

Then came a su­perb 1-0 last­gasp ex­tra-time derby vic­tory against Premier League Burn­ley at the Wham Sta­dium in round two.

That earned the League Two side their chance against another top-flight team in Slaven Bilic’s Ham­mers – and they’re not plan­ning to make the trip to the cap­i­tal just a sight­see­ing tour.

“It’s the first do­mes­tic cup game at the sta­dium and it’s some­thing for us to be proud of,” said Cole­man.

“We al­ways lift our game when we play against big teams in big sta­di­ums and I al­ways be­lieve ev­ery time I go out with a team that we can win – or I woudn’t bother.

“I have never gone out to draw or con­tain any team. Plenty of teams have done that to us, but I have al­ways gone out to win. If we get a tonk­ing, so be it – you have to be pre­pared to play your own way and the play­ers know the style of play I want.”

As­pire

As for whether he would pre­fer to play against West Ham stars like Dim­itri Payet or their sec­ond string, Cole­man plumps for the for­mer.

“It would give us an in­di­ca­tion of where our play­ers need to get to,” he said. “The dif­fer­ence I have seen from top level play­ers is how su­per-fit they are and that is some­thing we can as­pire to.

“Slaven Bilic won’t have come up against a team from our level too of­ten and we will sur­prise them with our style of foot­ball. There is a lot of di­rect foot­ball in League Two, but there are four or five teams that buck that trend. We are one of them.

“They will be sur­prised how we ap­proach the game.

“Play­ing against a Premier League team could give my play­ers a bit more time on the ball to ex­press them­selves.”

While Stan­ley have en­joyed their EFL Cup nights, their league form has been patchy.

How­ever, Cole­man in­sists it’s not a hang­over from last sea­son when they ag­o­nis­ingly missed out on pro­mo­tion to League One.

“We lost a lot of that squad and it’s been a case of bed­ding new play­ers in,” he ex­plained. “There is more to come from us and I know this team will get bet­ter.

“We brought in good play­ers this sum­mer and, when they get to know each other, I can only see us im­prov­ing. We want to be chal­leng­ing for pro­mo­tion, with­out a doubt.

Sick­en­ing

“If we were just aim­ing for sur­vival, I would pack in, though our bud­get might say we should be do­ing that. You shouldn’t be in the league if suc­cess is just stay­ing up.”

As for whether he had per­son­ally found it dif­fi­cult to get over last sea­son’s dis­ap­point­ment, the 53-year-old smiled: “Yes­ter­day, I went 90 sec­onds with­out think­ing about it, so I guess I’m over it.

“It was a body blow, sick­en­ing. We set out to get 85 points and we did it. We were un­for­tu­nate not to win the last game – we hit the wood­work a few times – and other teams in con­tention got their re­sults.

“Peo­ple say it’s swings and round­abouts with de­ci­sions, but the one against AFC Wim­ble­don (when Billy Kee’s ‘goal’ was dis­al­lowed as ref­eree Trevor Ket­tle blew for half­time with the ball goal-bound) only hap­pened to us.

“That cost us two points, and things like that are frus­trat­ing. I was so pleased with the way we played last sea­son, but we didn’t get the pro­mo­tion I felt we de­served.”

To­day is the sec­ond an­niver­sary of Cole­man re­turn­ing to Stan­ley for the sec­ond time as man­ager and, for all the set­backs, he’s lov­ing life with the club, just as much as when he led them into the Foot­ball League first time around.

“You are al­ways try­ing to im­prove as a per­son and in your job,” he said. “You have to use ev­ery­thing as a learn­ing curve and this time around I’m bet­ter equipped.

“It’s been a whirl­wind two years, but there have been far more highs than lows and that’s all you can hope for.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages & Me­dia Image

GIANTKILLERS? Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley boss John Cole­man plans to shock Dim­itri Payet, right, at the Lon­don Sta­dium

PAIN GAME: Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley’s Tarique Fosu can’t be­lieve it af­ter his side failed to beat Steve­nage in the fi­nal league game last term

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