When Accrington Stanley F.C. travels to play Burton Albion F.C. at Pirelli Stadium in Burton upon Trent, England this Saturday, 19 September 2020, it may feel like "deja vu all over again" to quote American baseball legend Yogi Berra, as it will be their second trip there in 15 days. The first meeting, which was a 1st Round match in the EFL Carabao Cup, finished level at 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes after an 82nd minute equalizer by Cameron Burgess for Accy, but it was The Brewers prevailing 4-2 in penalties. Ironically, that could end up impacting this match, as Burton moving on to the 2nd Round meant playing Aston Villa on Tuesday, which means they will be coming into Saturday's match on just 3 days rest. To add insult, and injury, to injury, not only did Burton drop the match to Villa by a 3-1 margin after initially leading on 2nd minute goal by Colin Daniel, but also saw star signee Michael Bostwick go off with an injury in the 25th minute. Accrington comes off a surprise opening day win over Peterborough United, with the truly surprising part not being that they grabbed the 3 points, but that they were able to keep a clean sheet against The Posh. It was Dion Charles opening the scoring with a world class goal that was curled into the net off the volley, at the top of the 18-yard-box. Standout newcomer Tariq Uwakwe added the insurance goal, his 4th tally in just 2 appearances for Accy.
Listen To Our Podcast With Tariq Uwakwe
The news for The Brewers this week hasn't been all bad though, as they have added 2 new loan signings, with midfielder Jack Roles coming over from Tottenham Hotspur, and forward Indiana Vassilev coming over from Aston Villa. Vassilev was born in the United States, in Georgia, and has represented the U.S. internationally up through the under-20 level thus far. He also made his debut with the Villa first team last season, in a match against Brighton and Hove Albion, and in doing so, the 19-year-old became the second youngest American to ever appear in the Premier League. It has been confirmed that both are training with the Burton side already, and considering that each has played in a match for their parent club's respective reserve sides within the past week, it can be assumed that both are match fit, and ready to step right in. Either one of these players could end up presenting a tremendous headache for the Accrington back line. Roles established that he knows how to put the onion in the bag, doing so 5 times in 12 starts on a loan stint with League Two Cambridge United last season. This is Vassilev's first loan stint, but given his impressive pedigree, I think it is fair to assume that he will make an impact at this tier. When Accrington met Burton a few week's ago in the League Cup, one of my biggest questions was where the goals were going to come from. It seems they may have answered that questions a bit with these two signings, but even with these additions, they are going to be extremely shorthanded at several positions this week. Thus, the short rest will effect them even more than if they had their full squad available. Furthermore, the versatile veteran Bostwick is expected to miss and Saturday, it will be a big subtraction for them. Neal Eardly, Charles Vernam and Luke Varney are all expected to be out as well, which is going to leave The Brewers with an absolute shoestring bench.
The biggest story at Accrington this week was the signing of their legendary coaching staff, John Coleman, Jimmy Bell and John Doolan to contract extensions through 2024.
Burton Albion vs Accrington Stanley Vital Information
This match can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow in the United States, at 7:00 AM U.S. (Arizona Time)/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Joshua Smith as the referee, with assistants Rob Smith and Daniel Leach, and the fourth official Robert Madley.
If the injury situation wasn't bad enough for Burton, they also have a pair of suspensions, with Kieran O'Hara and John-Joe O'Toole both banned from Saturday's match. With Sam Finley moving on from Accrington this week, The Reds do not have any suspended players for
This will be the 18th meeting all-time between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Burton Albion. In the previous 17 meetings, Burton has won 7, Accrington has won 6, and there has been 4 draws. Note: The most recent result was a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, but goes as an official win for Burton and loss for Accrington as decided by penalty kicks, per 11v11.com which is the site I use for this information (as there is some debate on this topic). However, more importantly, especially for those who took up my betting advice on the last match up, the 90 minute result of draw is what is actionable for gamblers. Of note also, is that neither team has ever won more than 2 games in-a-row in this series.
The Lead Story
There are many people who are important to the history of Accrington Stanley since 1970, from players like Paul Mullin and Billy Kee, to executives like Eric Whalley and more recently Andy Holt, there are several names that really stand out, but there are no more preeminent figures in club history than John Coleman, and his right hand man Jimmy Bell. Since 1999, with the exception of a roughly two-year-stint between 2012-2014, they have steered the ship Accrington Stanley to 4 promotions, with 0 relegations during that period. Since returning in 2014, they have achieved the greatest heights in club history with promotion to third tier in 2018. They have now kept the club in League One for what will be a third consecutive year, and look to have built what might be their most talented squad to date.
It was nearly 6-years-to-the-day from their 2014 return, that they inked these new deals on Thursday, and assuming they see out the contracts, means their second stint at Accy will last at least a full decade. John Doolan is entering his fourth season as a first team coach with the club, and with his arrival, it has allowed John Coleman to spend less time on day-to-day training, and focus more on match preparation, scouting for new talent, and the human element of coaching. We were lucky enough to have all 3 of them on the show last spring, and those episodes call all be streamed below.
💬 “It is a commitment on both parts but as I’ve said before, we’re very happy here and I see us remaining to be happy here.”— Accrington Stanley FC (@ASFCofficial) September 18, 2020
The full pre-match interview with #asfc manager John Coleman is now available to read on the club website.
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Listen To Our Podcast With John Coleman
Listen To Our Podcast With Jimmy Bell
Listen To Our Podcast With John Doolan
Accrington Stanley Player Snapshots
The other big news this week was the contract extension of goalkeeper Toby Savin to a 3-year-contract extension. It was the biggest vote of confidence yet that the club has given to the 20-year-old. So far this season, Savin has looked impressive, especially in earning a 5 save clean sheet against Peterborough in his very first League One start. This is big news for Stanley to have a keeper to call their own long term. The past 2 seasons they have relied heavily on loanees like Josef Bursik and Connor Ripley. Dimitar Evtimov showed flashes of brilliance, but was derailed by injuries and inconsistency last season. However, when he departed for Bulgaria this offseason, it left Accy without an experienced keeper, and left many wondering if a veteran would be brought in.
However, this kind of long term commitment makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that Savin is a guy that Coleman sees as his long terms starter. The length of the contract is further evidence of the new way of doing business at Accrington, in terms of signing young players to a length of contract that will allow the club to profit from selling them down the road if performance merits, as they did with Callum Johnson to Portsmouth earlier this month.
It goes without saying that Accrington has undergone quite a widespread change in personnel this offseason, and with that has come a change in formation. As we have noted, the signing of Cameron Burgess and departure of Johnson, meant that Burgess, along with Mark Hughes and Ross Sykes were Accrington's three most experienced, and perhaps most talented defenders. This seems to have played out with Coleman's 3-5-2 formation in the past 2 matches, which is a formation that Uwakwe said during our interview is something the team immediately took to in training. While it is not a formation we see every day, it is one that clearly shows that Coleman isn't afraid to do something outside the box to take advantage of getting his best 11 players on the pitch.
To best break down what I saw against Peterborough, Hughes is playing the number 5, sweeper center back position. This means he is going to primarily be the last line of defense in front of the keeper, and his job is to clear out anything that gets into the box. Sykes and Burgess both play more of a number 4 role, with Burgess playing left central and Sykes at right central. In this formation there really isn't a number 2 (right fullback) or number 3 (left fullback), but Burgess or Sykes are responsible for covering these areas of the field if the opponent gains possession of the ball in the midfield, or deep in Accrington's zone.
💬 “We’re not the finished article by no means, so we’ve got more work to do and hopefully we can carry that on.”— Accrington Stanley FC (@ASFCofficial) September 18, 2020
The full pre-match interview with #asfc defender @CamBurgess95 is now available to read on the club website.
➡️ https://t.co/V3SLWaIF7U pic.twitter.com/vTTB1hfgMS
Once you get to the midfield, I find that this formation is almost more of a 3-3-2-1-1 formation, or shape. With the next 3 you have Seamus Conneely in the center playing the number 8, or box midfield role. Matt Butcher and Mo Sangare are almost both playing a number 6, or holding midfield role, with Butcher on the left side, and Sangare on the right. Notably, this means that when Accrington turns the ball over in their attack zone that Butcher is tasked with dropping back to cover the deep left, and Sangare likewise on the right. Uwakwe is your number 11, or left wing, and Pritchard your number 7 (right wing). Even though he is wearing the number 9 shirt, I see the speedier and smaller Ryan Cassidy as more of the number 10, CAM (central attacking midfielder) in this formation, and more physical, and experienced Dion Charles as your number 9, center forward. By doing this, you are now playing to each players strength, and finding a creative way to get your best 11 on the pitch.
With the return of Colby Bishop from injury last week, and addition of talented newcomer Thomas Allan, Accy now has a bit of depth of front as well, and will get even deeper when winger Sean McConville makes his return from injury. Another recent signee, Cameroon international Stephen Sama, and Joe "not Harry's brother" Maguire give Stanley quality depth on the back line as well.
Listen To Our Podcast With Sam Finley
The other big player related news this week comes in the form of the departure of midfielder Sam Finley. For the past 2 seasons Finley had been a regular starter in the Accrington midfield, and is the kind of scrappy player that Coleman is known for digging up from the Liverpool area. It appeared that last season Finley had made strides forward on the pitch, playing in nearly 85% of team minutes last season, up from about 68% in 2018-2019. While his assist numbers fell off a bit, his showed improved commitment on defense last year, which resulted in an improved plus/minus rating of -6, compared with -14 the season before. However, it seems that his issues with discipline may have finally caught up with him, and his current 8 match ban for using a derogatory slur towards an opponent was likely the deciding factor in his departure. Finley had also racked up 18 yellow cards over the past 2 seasons, including a team high 10 last year (in a shortened season). This was actually the second lengthy suspension for Finley, as in 2019 he received a 5 match ban for an incident at Charlton Athletic. It is a difficult situation as Finley was both a fan favorite, and the type of player that Bell and Coleman look to have in their side.
Unfortunately, a player missing 15 games due to suspensions over the course of two season is just far too many. We had Sam on the show last Spring, and he was a fantastic guest and someone we consider a friend of the show, so we wish him nothing but the best with the future of his career. Ultimately, the fact that Accrington was not able to sell an under contract Finley proves that other teams are wary of him at this point, but the fact that he was quickly snapped up by rivals Fleetwood Town proves that the talent is there. His new manager at Fleetwood is Joey Barton, who was no stranger to suspensions during his playing career, and may prove to be a perfect mentor for Finley.
Looking At The Opposition: Burton Albion
In their opening week, League One match, Burton fell 2-1 away at Fleetwood Town. It was newcomer Callum Camps opening the scoring for Fleetwood in the 17th minute. The Brewers did come back to equalize about midway through the 2nd half, with a goal by John Brayford. However, Paddy Madden put the home side ahead for good in the 79th minute. Not only did Burton lose the match, but O'Toole received a very late (90 +6) red card for a high footed challenge against Fleetwood's Mark Duffy, and will be serving the 2nd of his additional 3 match ban Saturday. Player/manager Jake Buxton hasn't put himself in the side yet this season, but last year he made 20 starts for the team as a central defender. With O'Toole and Bostwick both out as options at center back, I wouldn't be surprised if Buxton is forced to put himself on the bench tomorrow. Between O'Toole, Botwick, and Eardly, it means 3 of the outfield players who started against Fleetwood last Saturday will not be available for Buxton this Saturday. This is in addition to already having been without O'Hara, who is their regular starting goalkeeper when available, but he is serving a 6 match ban for violent conduct in a match last March against Peterborough. All of this is going to leave a lot on the shoulders of Brayford, who is the other regular starter at center back. If there is a man for the job, it is him though, as not only did he score the lone goal in the last match against Fleetwood, but is was his 200th career start for The Brewers, and ironically enough was his 400th career start in the EFL (Championship 194, League One 161, League Two 45). There are veteran players and then there are VETERAN PLAYERS, and this guy certainly fits into the all caps category. Offseason signing Kane Hemmings has been the starter at center forward thus far, along with "Mr. Brewer" Lukas Akins up front. Akins has been an absolute staple, and is versatile and can play many positions, so my expectation is that Hemmings, who has mediocre career numbers at this tier will be the one pushed out of the starting lineup by Vassilev.
Burton Albion vs Accrington Stanley 19/9/20 Gambling Analysis
In our EFL League One preview episode from this week, Tony Robinson mentioned that he thought Accrington might be looked at as the favorite coming into this game, while I said that I suspected the betting line would still favor Burton. What is slightly unexpected is that the line is virtually unchanged from the EFL Cup match, and I had expected it to move towards Accrington by slightly more than the mere 5 cents on a dollar that it did. When I wrote the last article, I said that the line told me the books were guarding against the draw, and this week's line is telling me that the fine folks at Draft Kings are doing exactly that this week. You might be of the school of thought that this is the part of the season where maybe Accrington is better than the pros have caught up with, but I think it's a bit early for that, especially since last week's win came at home. I would tend to think that the injuries, short rest, and suspensions would make things difficult for Burton, but that doesn't seem to be factored into this line. Anytime the line is not much different than you expected is what the pros call a stay away game, and this is closer to that than anything else. In other words, keep the farm in the family this week, the draw is probably still the safest bet, so if you are a glutton for action, maybe throw a few ears of corn at that. For the risk adverse, back that up with a few ears of corn on an Accy win and still earn better than even money if either comes through.
Burton Albion vs Accrington Stanley Prediction
Arran Airs likes to make reference to playing on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke, well this is going to be a sunny Saturday afternoon in Burton, but the concept is still the same. What I mean is there is not going to be anything posh about this one, it is likely to be the type of physical match that could end with less than 10 men on the field for both teams. A pitch that hasn't been mowed since the last meeting wouldn't be surprising either. Without a doubt The Brewers have added some scoring punch with this week's signings, but I don't think that Burton hired an old school, physical center half like Buxton as manager because the were looking to play Wengerball. Accrington has a good amount of size, especially with their back 3, so I don't see the physical matchup being a problem for them. What I do see being the biggest problem is Burton's experience. With a 3 year edge in average age, The Brewers simply have more players that have been around the block a few times, than Accy does at this point. I think Accy has the edge on talent, but I think the experience and home field edge will be enough for The Brewers to hold out for a point in this match.