Accrington Stanley have been one of Sky Bet League Two’s on-form sides over the last couple of months.
Prior to a 1-0 home defeat to Colchester United last time out, Stanley had won their previous five matches and sit seventh in the table.
They reached the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup last season before falling to defeat against top flight Leeds United.
LAST TIME OUT
Accrington Stanley 0 Colchester United 1
Saturday, October 28, 2023, Sky Bet League Two
Line-up: McCracken, Mellor (Lowe 76), Pickles, Gubbins, Longelo, B Woods (J Woods 89), Martin, Pritchard, Leigh (Nolan 76), Whalley, Andrews. Subs not used: McIntyre, Fernandes, Shipley, Conneely.
Manager John Coleman is in his second spell at the club and is close to reaching the decade mark. He has overseen an incredible period of success for the club – including guiding them into the EFL and winning promotion to League One.
He has certainly had the upper hand when leading Stanley against Rovers, having suffered just one defeat in nine competitive meetings during his second spell at the Wham Stadium.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper – Jon McCracken
The Scottish-born goalkeeper is currently on loan from Norwich City, where he has been part of their youth set up since 2016. During his time with the Canaries, the 23-year-old has been loaned to Bohemians, Stevenage and Dundee before making an emergency loan to Stanley at the end of September. Still only 21, the 6ft 3in keeper, represented Scotland U17 on six occasions.
Defender – Rosaire Longelo
The 24-year-old left back joined Stanley in January 2022 from Newcastle United where he had featured regularly for the U23 side and in their EFL Trophy games. An ever -present throughout this season’s league campaign, Longelo is already close to making his 75th appearance in the red of Accrington and has found the net on four occasions.
Midfielder – Tommy Leigh
Released by Portsmouth aged 16, Leigh went into non-league football with Baffins Milton Rovers and Bognor Regis Town before Accrington signed him July 2021 for an undisclosed fee. With a keen eye for goal Leigh has now scored 24 goals in 94 appearances for the club, with four of those coming this season. Still only 23, he’s a bright future ahead of him.
Striker – Josh Andrews
A familiar figure to Rovers fans, towering striker Andrews spent the early part of last season on loan at the Eco-Power from Birmingham City before his spell was cut short due to injury. Again, on loan from the Blues, Andrews has been a key figure for Accrington this season, where he’s started every league game, scoring five goals in the process.
In 1968, the current Accrington Stanley rose from the ashes of the one that had been a member of the Football League from 1921 to 1962. The new Stanley joined the Football Conference in 2003 nd three years later secured promotion to the Football League.
The first meeting of the new Stanley and Rovers came in November 2006 in the third round of the EFL Trophy. Rovers won the match, one of the last played at Belle Vue, by 2-0 with goals from Paul Heffernan and Sean Thornton. The next nine meetings between the two were either won by Stanley or drawn.
Rovers finally claimed a league win on February 22, 2022, when goals from Josh Martin and Joe Olowu sealed a 2-0 win. Today’s game is the first meeting between the two clubs in the Emirates FA Cup.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Central defender Joe Wright was one of a handful of players who have turned out for both clubs. In 2015-/6 he spent a season at Stanley, on loan from Huddersfield Town, making 21 appearances. The following season he joined Rovers permanently, and in five seasons he made 157 senior appearances, scoring five goals. In July 2022, he joined Scottish Premier League side Kilmarnock.
Contributors: John Coyle and Gavin Hepworth