Rovers swiftly renew acquaintances with Accrington Stanley as the two sides battle out for a place in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Accrington twice pegged Rovers back in the original staging of the first round tie at the Eco-Power Stadium, with the 2-2 draw setting up the replay.
The winner will go on to face either Peterborough United or Salford City next month.
Since the 2-2 draw, Accrington suffered a 3-1 defeat at Crawley Town, which saw centre half Brad Hills dismissed and subsequently suspended for this game.
LAST TIME OUT
Crawley Town 3 Accrington Stanley 1
Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, November 11, 2023
Line up: McCracken, Hills, Rich-Baghuelou, Mellor (Lowe 59), Longelo, Martin (Gubbins 88), B. Woods (Conneely 59), Whalley, Nolan, Pritchard, Adedoyin (J. Woods 58).
John Coleman is closing in on the 10-year mark in his second stint at the Stanley helm and has developed quite the reputation with the East Lancashire club.
In his first spell with the club Coleman guided them to three non-league promotions and, since returning, the 61-year-old has won the League Two title to take Accrington to League One for the first time in their history between 2018 and 2023.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper: Jon McCracken
The 23-year-old Scotsman joined Stanley on an emergency loan from Norwich City in a move that has been extended every seven days since September.
He doesn’t have a senior appearance under his belt for the Canaries but has spent time on loan at Bohemian, Stevenage and Dundee prior to Accrington where he is now receiving rave reviews.
Defender: Kelvin Mellor
Experienced defender Mellor has enjoyed numerous spells across the north west during his career and has also tasted success in the area.
Prior to arriving at Stanley, the 32-year old had won promotions at Blackpool, Morecambe and Crewe where he also won the EFL Trophy in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience to BB5.
In the middle: Shaun Whalley
Attacking midfielder Whalley tasted non-league success with both Luton Town and AFC Telford in the same season in 2014 but perhaps his most noteworthy spell came at Shrewsbury Town.
The Englishman played over 250 times for the Shrews and combined 39 goals and 52 assists to make 91 goal contributions before returning to the Crown Ground for a second spell.
Up top: Korede Adedoyin
Nigerian forward Adedoyin had a hugely impressive youth career at Everton scoring 27 goals in 52 appearances at Finch Farm before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday in 2020.
He only played three times for the Owls in the EFL Trophy before joining Accrington Stanley in February 2022 and has scored nine goals in 45 matches.
Despite Rovers first meeting an Accrington side in 1924, the first match against the new Stanley came in November 2006 as Paul Heffernan and Sean Thornton scored the goals in a 2-0 win on the road to the EFL Trophy title.
Since the reform, the sides have met 12 times but Rovers trail the head-to-head rivalry with their two wins in comparison to Accrington’s seven while the other three games have resulted in draws.
The last meeting between the two sides prior to the FA Cup meeting last week saw Rovers run out 2-0 winners at the Eco-Power Stadium thanks to goals from Josh Martin and Joseph Olowu in February 2022.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Both clubs enjoyed the services of winger Mallik Wilks on loan from Leeds United at the start of his career. Wilks joined Accrington as an exciting 18-year-old prospect and scored five goals in 24 appearances as Stanley won the League Two title in 2018.
The following season, the Englishman joined Rovers and quickly became a fan favourite in Grant McCann’s side. He turned out 55 times that term to score 16 goals and assist 12 times in an extraordinary breakout season that saw Rovers finish inside the League One play-offs.
Since then, Wilks has turned out for Barnsley, Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday where he has won tier three promotions with the latter two clubs.
Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan