THEY look like being this season’s surprise package of League Two. At the moment Accrington Stanley - Rotherham United’s opponents at the Crown Ground tonight - are certainly fitting that particular bill.
It’s fourth versus 10th tonight and if you’d guessed the respective positions when the season started, you’d have had the Millers down as the team in fourth. Not so.
Accrington occupy that exalted place and are doing so as manager Paul Cook looks to change the philosophy that previous boss John Coleman engendered so successfully.
Under Coleman, they were essentially based on effort, on battling, on solid defending, revelling in the underdogs tag. They were prepared to tough it out and gave it their all.
Cook, a skilful midfielder once at Burnley, is turning his Accrington side into one that looks to play a bit more.
They recently went down 4-3 at Chesterfield but played some very good stuff and had Spireites’ folk admitting they’d been second best to ‘Accy’ in all but the scoreline.
Millers boss Steve Evans acknowledges that the division often throws up a team that surprises people.
“Last year it was Cheltenham and, this season, no one would have had Accrington Stanley in the top four,” said Evans.
“But they are. They were always a team who worked extremely hard and you had to match the effort and the passion but now they have got players who can play,” he added.
“They have some talented players there and this is a tough game.”
On loan Millers midfielder Danny Schofield cannot play for Stanley tonight.
Evans says he wasn’t surprised at Scott Shearer’s late save on Saturday which effectively secured the three points.
“Over a season, he will get you points, “ said Evans. “Yes, he will let goals in but he will win you points too and he’ll get better because he’s still finding his feet.”
And the Rotherham manager said he was fortunate to have two such good ‘keepers as Shearer and Andy Warrington.
“It’s a great battle between them, seeing those two in training, and we really have two good goalkeepers who are vying for that spot in the team and it’s so close, it could be either of them,” he said.
Midfielder Michael O’Connor has moved out in front as top scorer after his double in the 3-1 win over Oxford took him to four goals.
He also took on responsibility as penalty-taker with Daniel Nardiello on the bench and Alex Revell, designated taker the previous week, out suspended.
The loan bid for Peterborough striker Emile Sinclair last week was lined up when he decided he wanted to fight for his place.
“It’s funny but when I make an inquiry, the players goes in the team and starts scoring and Emile got a hat-trick,” said Evans who said Matt Tubbs is now “off the agenda”.