JOHN Coleman is hoping his Accrington Stanley side can pack a Boxing Day punch, and reinforce his belief that they are promotion candidates.

The Reds boss felt the performance in a rare goalless draw, against Blackpool, on Saturday showed they are capable of having an impact on League One’s top six.

And he is urging them to follow it up against a Doncaster Rovers side that would have gone top but for defeat to Shrewsbury Town in midweek, which ended a four-game winning run.

“I think what the players learned (against Blackpool), we are very much in the hunt,” said Coleman.

“People have played us down this season, ourselves included, but we looked like promotion candidates on Saturday, against a very good Blackpool team who have been in excellent form and we pushed them all the way.

“I think we were the better team. When I have watched the video again we really should have won the game, we had lots of possession, didn’t give up too many chances, had lots of shots ourselves.

“We didn’t hit the target as much as I would have liked but we controlled most of the game and if we can carry on playing like that and showing the energy and appetite we showed who knows where it can take us.

“We still think we are improving, we know we have got to improve and we are trying to improve and we are not sitting back on our laurels.

“We are always trying to progress, and you have got your players like that, they are egging each other one and geeing each other up and I think they are smelling this could be a special year.

“It’s a similar feeling to 2018 (when Stanley won the League Two title).

“You have got to get on runs and when those runs come to an end you have got to dust yourselves down and go again.

“Obviously we had the Wigan debacle as I would call it but we have come back a little bit stronger since then but you have got to keep driving forward.”

Coleman knows they will need top gear against Darren Moore’s Doncaster.

“I went to watch Doncaster midweek and they are a good side but we know we are a good side and our plan is to formulate a plan to beat them and I am sure they are doing the same with us,” he added.

“We have to play to the best of lour ability all the while and if we do that we are a match for anyone. The pleasing thing is we had a friendly for the 23s and the fringe players on Monday and they came through it well and so we are looking at everyone itching to play and do well and when you get that in the squad it’s good.”