Sean McConville 36, 43, 51, Billy Kee (pen) 20, Luke Armstrong 66


Harvey Rodgers og 90+3

ACCRINGTON Stanley offered Plymouth Argyle supporters who had made the long trip to the Wham Stadium a free drink for their efforts but the generosity ended in the stands as the Reds hammered their visitors 5-1 to secure League One football for next season.

Sean McConville was the star of the show, netting a fine hat-trick, as John Coleman’s side blew away their struggling opponents who slid into the relegation places as a result of their defeat.

The sides arrived in contrasting moods with Stanley having beaten promotion chasing Doncaster in midweek but Argyle seven without a win. Despite that the visitors started well, with Yann Songo’o heading over and Jamie Ness forcing an early save from Jonny Maxted.

Everything changed in the 19th minute though when Ness bundled Jordan Clark over inside the box from Janoi Donacien’s long throw and referee Craig Hicks pointed to the penalty spot. Billy Kee made no mistake, sending keeper Matt Macey the wrong way to make it 1-0.

Stanley’s star striker might have made it two when he volleyed into the side netting but soon it was McConville’s turn to take centre stage. The 30-year-old had scored at the Keepmoat in the week and continued his good form when he won a free kick just outside the box, stepped up and dispatched it past Macey with the help of a deflection to double the home team’s advantage.

His second, and Stanley’s third, came just seven minutes later in much more impressive style. It was a stunning team goal, starting with a stooping header from Mark Hughes inside his own box and culminating in a fine strike. Clark burst across half way, he found McConville on the left who helped it to the overlapping Dan Barlaser, the Newcastle loanee played it back to Clark inside the box and he laid the ball back for McConville to bend it beyond Macey from just inside the box.

The shellshocked Pilgrims made a double change at half time as they look to claw their way back into the game but Maxted was equal to their early efforts as he saved from Songo’o.

Instead Stanley continued to threaten and it didn’t take long for McConville to complete his second Football League hat-trick. The tireless Clark was again the provider, holding up and up and under from Kee and laying it to McConville on the edge of the box to allow him to bend it beautifully into the corner of the net.

The game was now over as a contest and it was merely a question of how many the rampant Reds would get. Luke Armstrong was the next to get in on the act, starting and finishing a move involving Clark and McConville to stab the ball left footed into the turf and past Macey for 5-0.

Stanley hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 16 attempts but it looked like they might when Hughes cleared a goalbound header off the line. Instead they were left frustrated when Alex Fletcher’s stoppage time ball across the face diverted off Hughes and past Maxted.

It was little consolation to the visiting fans. That free drink was nowhere near enough to drown their sorrows. In contrast, the bought and paid for beverages in the home bar must have tasted good as Stanley celebrated their survival.