Scout File: Accrington Stanley (A)

Credit Graham Burrell

Today is the day to put to bed more than a few demons, writes Tom Morton.

It’s now five games without a win away in all competitions. I mean, technically we have a slightly better record than Peterborough (who currently sit just outside the playoffs), but that doesn’t really help. Fortunately, today’s should be a winnable game however you look at it. This Accrington team has been consistently poor for a long time. Yet for several years we’ve just not been able to make that count against them.

Both encounters this season (one in the league and one in the Papa Johns) have ended in disappointing draws against a team who veered from poor football to poor gamesmanship. I think it’s safe to say at this point that we are struggling against the worse sides; it’s not bringing out the best in our team, unlike games against teams willing to play more stylish football. But that’s not much of an excuse. You can’t let the other team set the level of the game, not if you want to win, and ultimately that is our problem this season. We are a bit too passive and let our opposition dictate the pace and style. 


Performance-wise, Accrington are just in a worse and worse position. From their first twelve games, they picked up four wins and four draws. That’s not dissimilar to our performance (four wins and five draws) and good enough to be safe. However, they then went on to lose eight of the next thirteen games. That leaves them with a PPG of just 1.00 and an average of 1.6 goals conceded per game.

Our problem, of course, is hitting that number. We’ve only managed an average of 0.85 goals per game away from the Bank. That’s definitely not good enough and I think easily the reason our away form this year is pretty dire (we haven’t won away since October).

Credit Graham Burrell


In the transfer window, The ‘Owd Reds (one of my least favorite nicknames in the league) did very little business. Partly because they had quite a lot of in/outs in the summer window – so I suspect are struggling for budget. They did sign a youngster, Sebastian Quirk, from Everton’s youth team. We’ve seen him already this season in our 4-2 thrashing of them in the EFL Trophy. Accrington also brought in two loans; another youngster from Arsenal and Aaron Pressley from Brentford. 

Pressley isn’t exactly pedigree but he was part of the 20/21 squad that earned promotion from the Championship, appearing on the bench several times. Last season he joined Wimbledon appearing twenty-four times and scoring four goals, before getting a season-ending injury in early March.

One other bit of business affecting Accrington in the window is their release of Nathan Delfouneso. The 32-year-old joined in the summer on a Free Transfer from Bolton. On paper that looks like a marquee signing for them. Delfouneso has decent Premier League experience with Aston Villa and extensive experience in the Championship and League One with Blackpool. However with four appearances and no goals it clearly hasn’t worked out.


accrington lineup 22/23 (A)

It is at the front you can see Accrington struggling. In both our encounters this season they looked far from creative going forward. It says something that their top-scorer, Tommy Leigh, is a Mid-Fielder who has quite often played as Centre-Forward this season.

To be fair they do have a lot of shots (13+ per match on average) but they do very little with that, getting less than 35% on target and needing around 10 shots on average just to claim a goal. To put it into context – this is the area I’d say we’ve struggled with this season (and the thing holding us back the most) and we manage nearly 40% on-target and need 2-less goals to convert. If we’ve struggled, they’ve really struggled. 

Tactically Accrington’s style of play is essentially “big and strong bullies”. They haven’t offered much in the way of positive football in our encounters this season, and highlights show the theme has continued. Ethan Hamilton’s shameful antics in our 1-1 draw at the Bank back in November says it all. Today we need to come out and just play around them.

It has been a struggle for our midfield to secure the ball and lock out these sorts of teams but we need to do it to be successful at this level. By the way, one other interesting stat is that Accrington have scored 50% of their goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season. It’s clear (and you can see it in our encounters) they hang on for the last few minutes and try and pull the sucker punch.


I’ve probably been fairly mean about Accrington in this preview. But to be honest they’ve irritated in both their encounters with us this season – playing poor football and employing shady tactics. Even their fans are in trouble having recently earned the club a £5,000 fine for bad behavior. Despite all this, Accrington are in the Semi-Finals of the EFL Trophy (largely due to an easy run of L2 teams and some penalty luck) and made it to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. Irritating.

In short then, They don’t seem a good advert for League One football and it is time. After two years of failure, and a run of poor form this season, it’s time for us to put multiple demons to bed on the pitch.