Thursday, August 26, 2010

Acc aye the new

Accrington Stanley 2 - 3 Newcastle Utd

Resting the entire first XI which destroyed Villa so emphatically on Sunday, Chris Hughton gave those of us who aren't regular attendees of reserve games a glimpse into the possible future - but it was familiar faces who ultimately ensured our progress into the next round of the League Cup as we overcame an Accrington Stanley side for whom the epithet "plucky" would be an insulting understatement.

After a slow start - perhaps out of respect for our hosts, whose fans had unfurled a banner in honour of Sir Bobby Robson before kick-off - we began to dominate, largely through the aerial dominance of Big Lad and Nile Ranger, the latter causing particular havoc when coming in from his position on the right wing. A Big Lad shot, a Peter Lovenkrands header and two efforts from Ranger were scrambled away by defenders and 'keeper Ian Dunbavin before Ryan Taylor was allowed to advance into space and try his luck from distance. His subsequent effort, a vicious shot which arrowed into the top right-hand corner of Stanley's net, rivalled if not bettered the goal with which ASBO began Sunday's rout - an audacious attempt to muscle in on the headlines hogged by his namesake.

Ranger was at fault for the home side's equaliser, cocking up a clearance on the edge of the box and (together with a lame attempt at closing down from Haris Vuckic) presenting Ray Putterill with the opportunity to lash in the second screamer of the match in first-half stoppage time.

However, our striker-cum-winger made amends early in a second period whose kick-off was delayed by the Stanley fans lobbing loo roll into our goalmouth in what clearly passes for entertainment in those parts. He helped on a Delap-esque Taylor throw in the penalty area, and when the ball wound up at Big Lad's feet, the skipper for the evening tucked it under Dunbavin. Further chances went begging from Big Lad and Ranger, but we did manage to stretch our advantage when Kazenga LuaLua's cross caused confusion between Dunbavin and defender Sean Hessey and Lovenkrands knocked home the loose ball.

LuaLua became an increasingly incisive threat cutting in from the left in the second half, seeing one shot curl inches wide of the far post and another rebound of the near upright and across the goal-line. Ranger too could have extended the lead further but Dunbavin made an excellent low save to push his shot wide.

But if the scoreline was Stanley's cue to give up, they clearly weren't reading the script. Tim Krul - hitherto relatively untroubled apart from the goal and one headless chicken moment early on - was suddenly called upon three times and, after Putterill was denied his second by a goal-line clearance, Hessey walloped another belter into the roof of the net. Thankfully, though, time was against Accy and we clung on for victory in the first ever encounter between the two sides.

So, goals from Taylor, Big Lad and Lovenkrands squeezed us through, but what of the bairns? Well, LuaLua impressed the more the game wore on and, on the opposite flank, Ranger was a constant menace, if also admittedly leggy, profligate and unnecessarily short-tempered. At left back, Northern Irishman Shane Ferguson seemed to grow in confidence, venturing further forward in the second period, and Tamas Kadar - his return from injury unexpected - looked classy on the ball and suggested that perhaps Steven Taylor wouldn't be missed too much.

But it wasn't all good news. At times Ryan Donaldson and the much-vaunted Vuckic were rather overpowered in the centre of midfield, and the latter was lucky to escape censure for an elbow that was clumsy, to be charitable (though Stanley's Charlie Bennett could easily have walked for a two-footed lunge in the first half). Meanwhile, Kadar and James Tavernier were often worringly discomforted by simple, direct hoofs downfield.

Still, the game was won without the assistance of the big boys (the only substitute, Kevin Nolan, replaced Vuckic for all of three minutes), so mission accomplished.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


Anonymous d said...

gd result and they pushed us hard. I thought Lua Lua had a great game.


1:07 am  

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