As far as FA Cup second round ties go, a trip to Accrington Stanley is probably among the least desirable. It's not just because of the lack of glamour surrounding our opponents, but also because it's another away trip up north (we have failed to pick up a point this season north of Oxford – that's six defeats from six league games) and it lacks even the appeal of being against a side from another division – it's just over a month since the two sides met at the Kassam.
Much has changed at Accrington since that game, however. Manager Paul Cook has left for Chesterfield, and right-back Leam Richardson has been named his successor. Stanley have continued to be a model of inconsistency since the change, and come into the game having won, drawn and lost in their last three matches. A potential good omen for us this weekend is that Accrington's home form is poor this season, with five of their ten league games at the Crown Ground ending in an away victory. Stanley reached the second round thanks to a comfortable 4-1 victory in a Lancashire derby over AFC Fylde of the Northern Premier League.
Accrington will be without regular centre-back Rob Atkinson after he was recalled by parent club Fleetwood. As for us there is some good news on the injury front, with Damian Batt likely to return to the matchday squad after a groin injury which has kept him sidelined for several weeks.
We have the better of Accrington from the two clubs' short history of matches, but it took a few meetings for that trend to become apparent. Neither side was able to find the net in our first two matches against each other and the third also ended in deadlock. However, the last two games have gone the way of the yellows, with a 2-0 victory back in March (which, incidentally, ended up being our last win of the season – more than a month before our final fixture) and an impressive 5-0 thumping of an out-of-sorts Accrington in October.
Also This Weekend
Recent weather has wiped out football at the lower levels of the game, and both ladies teams fell victim to it last weekend. But if the weather is kinder this week, the table-topping ladies are due to host bottom of the league Gloucester City at 2 PM on Sunday. I won't say this one's a home banker but, well, it is.
Meanwhile the youth team saw their incredible winning streak ended last weekend after 12 games as they lost 3-1 in a friendly to Derby County. This weekend, they will hope to start a brand new run as they return to the league with a home match against Exeter City on Saturday morning.