Jordan Clark 49, Ross Sykes 90+2


Jonathan Leko 63

ACCRINGTON Stanley earned their place in the Checkatrade Trophy knockout stages, with a group game still to play, thanks to Ross Sykes’ stoppage time winner over West Brom Under 21s.

The Reds opened up their Northern Section Group C campaign with a 4-1 thrashing of Macclesfield Town.

And while last night’s result was not as convincing against the Baggies at the Wham Stadium, they had enough chances to make progress more comfortable.

Luke Charman, on his debut, Sean McConville and Connor Hall were at the heart of Stanley’s best play in the first half. Indeed Hall had the ball in the net but had what would have been his first goal for the club was chalked off for offside.

Charman also had one saved on the line, while McConville was a whisker away from scoring from midway inside the West Brom half with one of a plethora of chances for the experienced wide man.

Instead the Reds had to wait until the second half to break the deadlock, with Charman involved in the build-up as Jordan Clark stroked the ball across Jonathan Bond and into the far left corner.

Stanley were expected to kick on from there against West Brom’s young charges.

But the visitors drew level just after the hour.

Jonny Maxted had earlier made a superb save to tip over Finn Azaz’s goalbound effort. But he was then beaten first by Nick Clayton-Phillips’ right wing cross and then Jonathan Leko, who was unmarked on the line when he smuggled the ball home.

The equaliser, and manner of it, would have been a source of frustration to manager John Coleman, who despite making nine changes to the team which drew 1-1 with Coventry City at the weekend highlighted the depth of his squad by still being able to field a strong side.

Only Clark and Nick Anderton remained in the line-up, with Sean McConville returning from suspension as one of the changes, and captain Seamus Conneely marking his return from a groin injury sustained in late September.

Coleman was also keen to give run-outs to fringe players including Matt Platt and Charman and the Reds started brightly, but couldn’t take advantage of some occasional naïve defending.

West Brom’s youngsters grew into the game in the second half and looked increasingly dangerous on the break.

But Stanley persevered, and after Clark and Sykes came close, the latter thumped McConville’s corner home.

STANLEY: Jonny Maxted 6; Matt Platt 6 (Piero Mingoia 74 – 6), Ross Sykes 7, Ben Richards-Everton 6, Nick Anderton 6; Jordan Clark 8, Seamus Conneely 6, Scott Brown 7, Sean McConville 7; Luke Charman 7, Connor Hall 6.

WEST BROM U21s: Jonathan Bond; Nathan Ferguson, Kyle Howkins, Kevin Healy; Nick Clayton-Phillips, Dan Meredith, Finn Azaz, George Harmon; Jonathan Leko, Callum Morton, Jamie Soule (Rayhann Tulloch 73).

Subs not used: Jasko Keranovic, Zak Brown, Eoin Ashton, Zak Delaney, Taylor Gardner-Hickman.