Upbeat Accrington Stanley on the road to success

Lancashire Telegraph: Assistant manager Paul Stephenson (right) with James Beattie Assistant manager Paul Stephenson (right) with James Beattie

ACCRINGTON Stanley are determined to move out of the lower reaches of League Two before the month of February is out.

Stanley were rock bottom at the start of the season with only two points from their first 10 games but have climbed to 18th in the table following an impressive run of results.

The Reds want more though and travel to Wycombe Wanderers tomorrow with an eye on improving their best position of the season so far.

“We reiterate to the players daily that you cannot think you’ve cracked it in any league, you’ve got to keep on it,” said assistant manager Paul Stephenson.

“We’ve got to continue having some momentum. We’ve only ever been as high as 17th this season and we want to break past that, we want to get into the higher regions of the league if we can.

“This is going to be a big month in that respect.”

After the trip to Wycombe, Stanley host Scunthorpe and Bury before visiting struggling Torquay and Portsmouth this month. They currently sit only seven points short of eighth place.

Recent form has seen manager James Beattie, whose family remain based on the south coast, continue to be linked with the vacant manager’s job at third-placed Oxford United.

Oxford are understood to be prepared to give caretaker manager Mickey Lewis more time in charge but have been considering other options as well.

Beattie did not attend the pre-match press conference yesterday because he was away continuing to earn his UEFA B coaching licence, which he must complete by May 1 to prevent Stanley incurring a further £15,000 fine for appointing the ex-England striker as boss before he had the relevant qualifications.

But Stephenson, who was also assistant manager to Leam Richardson last season, was full of praise for Beattie’s work this season.

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“He’s been excellent,” Stephenson said. “I think he’s got a fantastic temperament and he’s a pleasure for me to work with because he allows me to get on and do the things that I’m good at.

“I think we work very well together.”

The controversial abandonment of last weekend’s home game against Morecambe after 58 minutes came after the postponement of Stanley’s previous match at the Store First Stadium against Bury.

But the Reds have won their last two away fixtures, at Cheltenham and Bristol Rovers, and are keen to continue that form on the road.

Preparations have not been easy though, with the wet weather making it difficult to find places to train.

“The lads have adapted really well recently because it’s been difficult with training and surfaces,” Stephenson said.

“We’ve been on a 3G pitch, we can’t get any grass anywhere except our pitch and we don’t want to wreck that.

“But I would imagine it’s the same for everybody.

“We don’t want to ever use it as an excuse, it’s just a fact of life in the winter.

“We’ve just performed brilliantly well away, we’ve performed well at home too and not really got our rewards at times I feel. We’ve let teams off the hook.

“We’ve been in good spirits, especially away from home and we want to keep that going.”

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