ACCRINGTON Stanley face a tough start to the Football League season after the fixtures handed them a cross Pennines opening day trip to Rotherham United.

The Reds go to the Don Valley Stadium to face a fancied Millers outfit on Saturday, August 8.

The Millers enjoyed a remarkable last campaign as they made light of a 17-point deduction to finish in mid-table and have already splashed out £150,000 on hot-shot striker Tom Pope this summer as boss Mark Robins aims to steer them towards League One.

But the Reds have no worries about facing United, even though assistant boss Jimmy Bell admits the fixture list could have handed them a kinder hand.

Stanley entertain Peter Jackson’s Lincoln City in their first game of the campaign at the Crown Ground before another testing fixture as they head down the M1 to Northampton Town, who were relegated from League One last season.

And Bell says the start is tough.

“It’s a difficult first game because they are the favourites to win the league and they have a few bob to spend on new players,” said Bell. “But we went there this season and did very well, so we won’t be scared of them.

“Lincoln and Northampton are good sides too, so it’s a fairly difficult start to be honest.”

After the first three games, Stanley then travel to Aldershot Town (August 22) before facing two more fancied sides in the shape of Shrewsbury and Bury, where they will come up against their long-time target Danny Carlton.

Stanley then play relegated pair Hereford United and Crewe Alexandra in successive games towards the end of September, while they go to newly-promoted Burton Albion on Tuesday, December 1.

The eagerly-anticipated derby at Morecambe takes place on Boxing Day with the return on February 6.

The last six weeks of the season is also a challenge for John Coleman (pictured left) and his side.

They face the arduous trip to Dagenham and Redbridge on Easter Saturday before hosting Grimsby on Easter Monday.

After that, they play Darlington, Port Vale, Hereford, Crewe and Chesterfield before finishing the campaign at Cheltenham’s Whaddon Road on Saturday, May 8.