Ahead of Sunderland’s League One match on Friday night, @MattyCrichton spoke to opposition fan @RawMilkZine who answered our questions concerning Accrington Stanley.
Accrington have failed to win a League One fixture in 2019, are you starting to worry you may be falling into a relegation battle?
There’s no two ways about it, we are in a relegation battle. We haven’t scored a goal since Boxing Day in the league (club record) and have only won twice since October. Not the best way to account for ourselves in the third tier for the first time ever. I’m really fearful because I don’t see where the points are coming from looking at our remaining fixtures.
Accrington are the second lowest scorers in League One having only found the net 27 times, although you did lose Kayden Jackson to Ipswich, did you expect more from Billy Kee this season?
Not really. Billy knows where the back of the net is, but he has his shortcomings. He’s not athletic, he’s relatively small and isn’t quick, so coming up against a better level of defender I thought he would always struggle, even after the highs of last year. Couple that with no real competition for places in the team and we find ourselves in a sticky situation.
You recently signed Luke Armstrong on loan from Middlesbrough, a striker who made a name for himself on loan at Gateshead earlier this season, are you confident he can make the step up to League One?
I haven’t seen enough of him to know if he’ll be any good, in all honesty. We’re in dire need of some fire power at the minute and Offrande Zanzala is back from injury which doesn’t help Luke’s cause. I’d like to see some faith shown in him and regular game time because he looked good at Charlton and could have bagged a couple of goals already in the appearances he’s made.
In January you lost your first-choice goalkeeper Connor Ripley who was recalled and sold to Championship side Preston, how has your deputy Jonny Maxted coped with being the number one?
Jonny has been a good back up and played well when called upon up to now. That being said he flapped at a strike last weekend and awarded Scunthorpe an opening goal so maybe our new back up could get a chance? It’s a minefield at the minute trying to predict the team because absolutely nothing is coming off for us on the pitch. If it’s Maxted, you should fancy unsettling him early on. If it’s Evtimov, your guess is as good as mine because we’ve seen 10 minutes of him.
Our new centre-half Jimmy Dunne spent time at Accrington last season during your promotion campaign, were you not surprised to see him sign for Sunderland?
No, he looks a real player. I was disappointed he didn’t re-sign for us but we were never going to hang on to him. He’s a handful attacking as well so I see him playing higher in the coming seasons. I know Dyche rates him at Burnley so if he has a good end to the year we might see him pushing their squad before too long.
Accrington have been heavily reliant on loan players this season particularly from Newcastle and Middlesbrough, does it frustrate you as a fan watching your team develop players for you to not see the long-term benefits financially or on the pitch?
It does but I understand the why the club does it. We’re on the same budget this season as last, which by all accounts was low for League 2, never mind League 1. Loans are our only chance really, we’ve always had them but this year probably a few more than usual. The only real issue I have with the system is that we can’t get proven experience. You need goals and you buy a striker that everyone knows. We need goals and get a loanee from Boro who’s never played in the Football League and ask him to hit the ground running.
You managed to get into the fourth round of the FA Cup following an impressive home win against Ipswich but were knocked out by Derby. Following that defeat, John Coleman was openly critical of the referee, did you feel hard done by after such a good run?
I thought the second yellow was a touch harsh but didn’t have too much to complain about in all honesty. John came out the next day and apologised for his comments, so it was all heat of the moment stuff. The cup’s always a nice distraction but it’s probably better us concentrating on the league right now, but the Derby game was a great occasion. Again, if we could take our chances we’d have won the match.
Many teams this season have relished playing at the Stadium of Light this season under such a big capacity for the third tier, do you think this will your spur your team on to get a result?
You’re everyone’s cup final really this season and we’ll be no different. We’ll have a big away following (for our standards) and add the fact that it’s on TV there’s been a real buzz around Accrington fans. Will it spur the team on? I’d say probably not this time, it’s the worst possible time for us to be playing you.
Lastly, if you had to give an honest prediction, what do you think the score will be at full-time on Friday night?
You’ll either hand out an absolute pasting or it’ll be a dogged affair. We won’t score more than one goal, if at all. 1:1.