JOHN Coleman has insisted that Accrington Stanley go into tonight’s League Two play-off semi final second leg against Stevenage as favourites to reach Old Trafford – even though they must overturn a 2-0 deficit at the Crown Ground.
Stevenage are 1/6 favourites with some bookmakers to reach next Saturday’s play-off final but Coleman has accused Graham Westley’s side of celebrating their first leg victory like they believed the tie was over, and has vowed to prove them wrong as bad blood continues to build up between the two teams.
Stanley will be backed by a full Crown Ground of around 4,300 fans, with the Coppice Terrace open to home supporters for this game, and Coleman believes the Reds’ outstanding home form means they should still be considered the more likely team to emerge from the tie victorious.
Accrington have won 10 of their last 11 home games and eight of those were by at least a two-goal margin, which is required to level tonight’s tie on aggregate.
Extra time and penalties will take place if necessary but Coleman says his squad have not practised spot kicks, such is their confidence that they can win the contest outright in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
“I certainly believe we’re favourites and I think the players know that they’re favourites,” said Coleman, who believes his side can deal with Stevenage’s more physical style this time around.
“We fancy ourselves. We expect to win and the stats tell you that if we do win we’ve got a better than even money of winning by more than one goal.
“I don’t believe it’s going to go to penalties, I think we’re going to win by three goals.
“I got the feeling that Stevenage thought they’d won the tie on Sunday, but I personally don’t think they have done enough. It's like celebrating New Year's Eve on December 28.
“We know what to expect from Stevenage. They think they’ve got their own laws, breaking the game up to get tactics on to the players and get drinks on.
“But we’ve got to make what they choose to do inconsequential, and the only way we do that is by scoring more goals than they scored in the first leg.
“We'll be concentrating on ourselves. If we've got the ball, it doesn't matter how big they are.
“It might impact on the fans though, their style of football. They might save the price of admission and stand outside and watch the ball.
“And I can assure you if we did get to Old Trafford, the atmosphere at the Crown Ground tonight would probably be even better than there because it’s a small ground and it will be predominately full of Accrington fans, which I can’t remember happening too often.
“To have it full with Accrington fans at both ends of the ground, it will be a special night.”