ACCRINGTON Stanley might be responsible for one of the best television commercials of all time, but they are rarely a fine advertisement for League Two football.

Less than 1,000 Stanley fans turned up for their home clash with York City to watch an uninspiring performance by John Coleman’s men.

But, what the unfashionable Lancashire club lack in stature and flair, they make up for with a lot of bottle - perhaps unsurprisingly given their role in famously marketing milk during the 1980s.

An ill-deserved 90th-minute equaliser, courtesy of Josh Windass’ deflected free-kick, represented the third time in their last five meetings with the Minstermen that Stanley have earned a share of the spoils that late in a match and beyond.

It is a habit symptomatic of their team motto – "the club that wouldn’t die" – a sentiment their visitors on Saturday might want to adopt during the fight for Football League survival in coming weeks.

Having tossed away an alarming 11 points now from the 88-minute mark and onwards this season, the Minstermen must certainly demonstrate, in the next six weeks, that they have the mental fortitude to manage games right up to the final whistle.

Against Accrington, skipper Russell Penn’s anxious trip on Windass handed the 21-year-old son of former Hull and Bradford City striker Dean a chance to beat City keeper Bobby Olejnik from 20 yards with the aid of a nick off the visitors’ defensive wall.

His goal meant City had been pegged back twice following Luke Summerfield and Jake Hyde’s second-half strikes and Olejnik has now conceded from the only three on-target attempts he has faced during the last two fixtures.

The Minstermen, meanwhile, ensured Stanley shot-stopper Scott Davies had a busier afternoon with Russ Wilcox’s decision to switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation vindicated by a positive display.

Tom Platt’s replacement of the injured Emile Sinclair after 14 minutes also proved an inspired call.

The 21-year-old midfielder, who had not featured in any of the last 19 games and been an unused substitute in all but four, provided the kind of attacking impetus that has been missing from that area of the pitch for most of the campaign.

Offering a willing bridge between midfield and attack, Platt’s introduction also enabled on-loan Tottenham striker Shaq Coulthirst to partner Hyde further up the pitch – a position where he can pose his greatest threat.

Platt had a hand in both visiting goals and repeatedly appeared in the opposition penalty box, giving an overdue reminder of his value in a three-man midfield, first evidenced when he broke into the side almost exactly two years ago with the club in a similar scenario to the current one.

After Hyde, Sinclair and Josh Carson all missed the target with early long-range efforts, Platt had the best chance to open the scoring in the first half.

Coulthirst robbed Lloyd Jones on possession close to the left byline and then fed the former City youth-team skipper but his goal-bound shot from eight yards out clattered into covering defender Rob Atkinson.

Further opportunities saw Coulthirst tee up an edge-of-the-box volley for himself that was deflected wide and Platt force the first save of the match on 29 minutes with a 20-yard daisy-cutter.

Matt Brooks then lifted a chance over at the other end and Kai Naismith sliced onto the roof of the stand with a woeful effort.

The last action of the half saw Coulthirst’s smart 15-yard shot on the turn kept out low to his right by Davies.

After the interval, City continued to press with Coulthirst volleying over from 12 yards, Summerfield stabbing wide from the edge of the box and Davies pushing a long-range Keith Lowe drive around his left-hand upright.

Hyde also drove wide from 20 yards before Russ Wilcox’s men forged ahead belatedly following a 63rd-minute counter attack.

Leading the charge through the middle of the pitch, Platt threaded a perfectly-weighted pass through the right channel to release Summerfield.

His low 15-yard shot then beat Davies after taking a deflection off home centre-back Dean Winnard.

But, after Windass dragged wide from 20 yards, Stanley were level again on 69 minutes.

Piero Mingoia lured Olejnik out of his goal with a cross from the right that the on-loan Peterborough keeper could not collect.

After the wing back’s delivery was only headed away by Lowe as far as Sean Maguire, he then found a partially-unguarded net from 12 yards.

But the away side nudged in front for a second time on 76 minutes with an excellently-crafted goal.

Summerfield spotted another forward charge through the right channel by Platt, who pulled the ball back into the path of John McCombe.

The towering City centre-back then displayed great composure to guide the ball sideways for Hyde to roll a shot in from six yards.

Hyde also flashed a half-volley wide of Davies’ near post but Stanley, typically, refused to surrender and, on 81 minutes, Crooks headed wide at the far post from Maguire’s corner.

With the fourth official preparing to signal a minimum of five minutes to play, Penn then fouled Windass and his shot spun into Olejnik’s bottom left-hand corner off Lowe’s head.

The final whistle prompted a section of City fans to spit venom at unfortunate boss Wilcox who, not for the first time, had prompted an improvement in his team with a brave change in tactics for this fixture.

He also finished the game with eight players that he had inherited following his mid-October arrival.

Shipping late goals, meanwhile, was a frailty dogging this group of players long before the start of his tenure but, Windass’ lucky leveller, placed in that context, pushed some supporters over the edge as Wilcox bore the brunt of their fury.


Match stats

York City

Bobby Olejnik: 6 – misjudgement for first home goal meant he was out of position for eventual shot.

Keith Lowe: 8 – looked very comfortable on the right-hand side of City’s three-man back line.

Dave Winfield: 8 – commanding throughout in the air and won his physical battles.

John McCombe: 8 – claimed a clever assist for Hyde’s goal and uncompromising at the back.

Brad Halliday: 7 – industrious down the right even if distribution lacked quality at times.

Russell Penn: 6 – late trip on Windass proved so costly for the combative captain.

Luke Summerfield: 8 – made a lung-busting run for his goal and helped set up Hyde’s effort too.

Josh Carson: 7 – helped team out defensively in his wing-back role, seen less in an attacking sense.

Shaq Coulthirst: 8 – looked threatening throughout and always willing to get a shot away.

Jake Hyde: 8 – held the ball up in attack and proved his prowess from six yards once again.

Emile Sinclair -

Subs: STAR MAN Tom Platt 8 – enthusiastic (for Sinclair, 14). Not used: Michael Ingham, Femi Ilesanmi, Lewis Montrose, Lindon Meikle, Marvin McCoy, Ben Godfrey.


Accrington Stanley

Scott Davies; Lloyd Jones (Jason Gilchrist, 87), Dean Winnard, Rob Atkinson; Piero Mingoia, Sean Maguire, Luke Joyce, Matt Crooks, Kai Naismith; Josh Windass, Terry Gornell (Shay McCartan, 87). Subs not used: Michael Liddle, Nicky Hunt, Gerardo Bruna, Seamus Conneely, Danny Whitehead.

Star man: Windass – displayed good ball control in attack.


Referee: Graham Horwood (Luton).

Rating: 8/10 – sensible with most of his decisions.

Booked: Halliday 18, Joyce 41.


Attendance: 1,454 (487 from City).


Shots on target: Accrington 2, City 6.

Shots off target: Accrington 5, City 9.

Corners Accrington 8, City 4.

Fouls conceded: Accrington 13, City 10.

Offsides: Accrington 0, City 4.