LEAM Richardson goes head to head with his former Bolton team-mate Dean Holdsworth tomorrow, and he hopes Accrington Stanley will be looking up rather than down after consecutive fixtures against three of League Two’s bottom clubs.
The Reds have slipped to 19th in League Two after only one win from their last 11 games and matches against Aldershot, AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth – currently 21st, 22nd and 23rd in the table – could do much to shape the rest of their season.
Defeats could leave Stanley in a relegation battle but victories would move them well clear of the drop zone and Richardson has still not given up hope of challenging for a play-off place this season.
The Reds spoke at the start of the season of their hope of competing for a spot in the top seven and, while remaining in the Football League will always be the club’s number one priority, Richardson has reminded his squad of Stanley’s rise from 17th in mid-February to fifth two seasons ago.
“It has been mentioned,” said the boss ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Holdsworth’s Aldershot.
“There is still a lot of football to be played.
“We spoke about it as a group in June or July time, we’ve got our own targets and that hasn’t changed.
“I think in most leagues there are a good majority of clubs who are safety first and then look to build on what they’ve got.
“Just like the other year with the play-offs, it’s exactly the same as it is now. You look at those points and that barrier where you need to be (to stay in the league), and then assess where you are and go again.”
Speaking about the importance of the next three games, he said: “It’s not just because it’s the teams around us at the minute, but it’s games that we really can win.”
Stanley travel to Aldershot 12 months after a 0-0 draw in Hampshire was overshadowed by the sale of captain Andy Procter a day before the game and Rochdale’s move for then manager John Coleman a day after it.
Now Richardson is the man in charge of the Reds and this weekend faces Holdsworth, who he played alongside at Bolton a decade ago and is 11 years his elder.
“Dean was a senior player when I was at Bolton and he was fantastic with me,” said the Stanley boss.
“I became good friends with him and it was no surprise to see him go into management and be successful.
“It will be nice to see him and hopefully have a drink with him after the game – hopefully after I’ve beaten him!”