'THE table doesn't lie' is a phrase often used by football folk - including managers - but John Coleman feels that, this season, it does as far as Accrington Stanley are concerned.

The Reds' promotion challenge is all but mathematically over after Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw at home to fellow top six hopefuls Portsmouth.

Stanley had led 2-0 through Colby Bishop and Sean McConville but were pegged back and in the end had to salvage a point deep into stoppage time after John Marquis cancelled out his earlier stoppage time goal for Pompey with an own goal at the opposite end.

The point left Coleman’s men in 11th place, six points adrift of the final play-off spot with two games to go, but with a significant goal difference against them.

"I know everyone says the league table doesn't lie... it's lied this season," said the Stanley boss.

"We are miles better than what our league position has shown.

"It was an absolute custard pie to concede in injury time, and then to score in the 95th minute shows what we've got, shows what we are about.

"I was really pleased we got something out of the game even though we may as well have got beat than drawn. All as we've done is dent Portsmouth, which I didn't really want to do but for our own sanity it's what we had to do really.

"We gifted them a couple of goals an ultimately that is what's cost us. And the chances we've mimsed are incredible."

But while Coleman was both frustrated and disappointed that their challenge has fallen short, his over-riding emotion was one of pride for his players.

And the Stanley boss is confident they can have a concerted League One promotion push next season, if they can keep the crux of their squad together.

“I’m so proud of the team that we’ve got. I’m so proud of the effort that they give,” he continued.

“I had a conversation with Sean McConville, who has been with me for the best part of 12 years on and off, and he said ‘Gaffer, honestly it’s the best set of lads we’ve ever had’.

“Every one of them is a diamond, and when they are like that and they give their all and they good people as well it’s a pleasure coming into work with them.

“I’m disappointed for them more than I am disappointed for me, if that makes sense, because they’ve worked ever so hard this season. They’ve run themselves into the ground


Coleman felt his side deserved more against Portsmouth, but he hopes their performances this season bode well for next.

“We were comfortably the better team in every department but it is what it is, football’s a game about scoring more goals than the opposition,” he added.

“But hopefully we will learn from this season. Keep the bulk of this squad together we can have a go next season.”