Accrington Stanley – who are they?
They are the League Two side that came from behind at the Riverside Stadium to send former winners Middlesbrough crashing out of the Capital One Cup in the first round.
Incredibly, this victory came just three days after Accrington were hammered 4-1 by League Two newcomers Newport County in their opening fixture of the season. Yet there was to be no repeat of that performance as James Beattie’s side battled and scrapped for every ball at the Riverside, showing real resilience in front of their 185 supporters up in the southeast corner stand of an eerily empty stadium.
It looked like the floodgates might open for the hosts as they took an early lead but they proceeded to squander a string of chances before Accrington’s Marcus Carver levelled before the break. The visitors battled hard second-half to resist strong Middlesbrough pressure and were rewarded when Piero Mingoia struck in the 82nd minute to secure a famous victory.
Predictably the Championship side had most of the play throughout the game (80% possession), but an inability to convert their chances (23 shots on goal) ultimately cost Tony Mowbray’s side the chance of building on last season’s run to the quarter-final stage.
The hosts struck first on nine minutes as a weakly cleared corner was nodded back in by Hungarian Jozsef Varga. Lukas Jutkiewicz stole in and deftly dinked the ball past the advancing keeper before slotting home from close range.
Jutkiewicz could have had a second a short time later but defender Tom Aldred came sliding in to prevent the striker converting Justin Hoyte’s cross. Then Mustapha Carayol and Emmanuel Ledesma both saw efforts flash wide before Carver rose five minutes before the break to head Accrington level with a looping effort that sailed over goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler
The second-half continued pretty much the way the first half had. Middlesbrough dominated possession and piled on the pressure with fierce efforts from Jutkiewicz and Grant Leadbitter, but both were superbly blocked by Accrington defenders.
This latest squandered chance sent groans of anguish – and a palpable sense of inevitability that it wasn’t to be Boro’s night – around the sparse Riverside crowd, highlighting that the club are still in desperate need of a player capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
Middlesbrough went close again after 78 minutes as substitute Adam Reach's shot was blocked and fellow substitute Luke Williams somehow managed to put the rebound over the bar from eight yards when it looked easier to score.
Three minutes later Mingoia blasted the visitors into the second round with a right-foot effort that went through a crowd of players and into the net after sloppy Boro defending.
Middlesbrough came on strong after the goal but Accrington stood strong with keeper Ian Dunbavin in inspired form late on, making a full length fingertip save to keep out Leadbitter and preserve his team’s lead.
Accrington Stanley were excellent from start to finish, defending bravely, weathering the Boro storm and taking their chances when they came along, and thoroughly deserved their fine win and place in the second round.
Tony Mowbray offered ‘no excuses’ for his side’s embarrassing home defeat after the game, admitting they simply didn’t capitalise when the opportunities arose.
“The bottom line is you have to stick your chances away and we didn't do that. You are only as good as your strikers,” he said.
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