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Accrington Stanley 1 Rotherham 1
SEAN Hessey’s first goal of the season rescued a point for Accrington Stanley to extend their unbeaten League Two run to four games.
The Reds looked in danger of a heading for a third home defeat of the season after Ryan Cresswell gave high-flying Rotherham a first-half lead with his first goal of the season.
But John Coleman’s side upped their game after the break and their pressure eventually told eight minutes from time when centre half Hessey spotted an opportunity from a 22-yard free kick to make it three draws in a row.
It was an equaliser which will not sit well with Stanley’s former goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble, who is now on the Millers’ backroom staff as Conrad Logan was caught out.
The Rotherham stopper was hanging on the right post, lining up his wall, when Hessey took aim and picked out the vacant top corner.
The visitors were furious, and continued their protest at referee David Webb at the final whistle while the Reds celebrated their rewards for an improved second half performance.
They had struggled for openings before the break as the front men couldn’t make anything stick.
Padraig Amond spearheaded the 4-2-3-1 formation, backed up by Craig Lindfield, Andy Procter and Wes Fletcher but opportunities were few and far between.
Fletcher was unlucky not to connect with Dean Winnard’s left wing cross, while Lindfield had a goalbound effort cleared off the line by Dale Tonge on the half-hour.
Rotherham, playing 4-4-2, made good use of their width, particularly down the right with Marcus Marshall looking to supply a strike partnership of Alex Ravell and Lewis Grabban.
Kevin Long got in the way of a Ravell header from an early first-half centre, headed another right wing cross out later on, then stuck out a boot to deflect Gareth Evans’ shot from distance on the rebound.
The Reds dealt with the first corner, but only to concede another from which Cresswell rose high in a packed goalmouth to head in Danny Schofield’s delivery from the right.
The Reds feared he had come back to haunt them.
It’s less than 12 months since the defender grabbed a last-minute winner at the Crown Ground after the 10-man Stanley let a 2-1 lead slip late on.
And he was up to his old tricks again, pouncing earlier this time.
But Coleman’s troops came out fighting after the break and deserved their equaliser when it eventually came.
At the start of the second half, Winnard sent ball to the far left post where Fletcher was lurking, but it didn’t fall kindly for the on-loan Burnley striker, after the Reds had switched to a more orthodox 4-4-2.
Fletcher then laid the ball off to Kevin McIntyre, who picked out Amond in the box. The forward chested the ball down but had his volley on the turn stifled by Michael Raynes.
Sean Murdoch was still active at the opposite end, making two good saves to deny Evans before Amond latched onto a long ball forward and was unlucky not to round the Rotherham keeper.
Ian Craney’s introduction with just over 15 minutes to go forced Fletcher back out wide, but the striker was always searching for the ball and gaps in the defence and was unlucky to see a firm hit bounce off a defender in the box.
A handball by Evans gave Stanley the crucial free kick.
Hessey had earlier been booked for the fourth consecutive game, but made amends by seizing his chance, and the point.