ACCRINGTON STANLEY, who are they?
Well, after last night maybe the Lancashire minnows will be the team who ultimately scuppered Doncaster Rovers’ play-off dreams.
Manager Grant McCann’s men are still in charge of their own destiny in the race for sixth place despite the shattering of their six-month unbeaten home record.
But Darren Ferguson and his seventh-placed Peterborough United side will be like the cats that got the cream this morning thanks to a shock victory for the club still best known to some for featuring in an Eighties advert for milk.
Rovers could have few complaints at losing to John Coleman’s side. Sure, the hosts improved after the break and even snatched a late consolation through Danny Andrew.
Accrington, though, were full value for the points after producing a display so polished it may even have impressed the young Ian Rush fan who had been so scathing in the famous advert.
Having defended with tremendous tenacity throughout, Stanley had the cunning and attacking quality to capitalise on an unusually poor first-half display from the hosts.
Paul Smyth, on-loan from Queens Park Rangers, proved too hot to handle during those opening 45 minutes. He created the opening goal and then scored the other in a first half that ended with Rovers leaving the field to a chorus of boos from the frustrated home fans in the 7,222 crowd.
Sean McConville was the beneficiary of the Belfast-born loanee’s trickery on 17 minutes. An inviting cross from the right was just begging to be dispatched past Marko Marosi – something that McConville did in fine style on the volley. Smyth followed this assist with a clinical finish of his own to double the visitors’ advantage shortly before the break.
Played clear of a static home defence, Smyth steadied himself before drilling an unstoppable shot past Marosi.
But for a bad miss by Ben Richards-Everton, out-of-sorts Doncaster could have trailed by three goals at the interval.
Those struggles at the back continued after the restart and Matty Blair was fortunate to have his blushes spared by the crossbar. A breakdown in communications between the former York City man and goalkeeper Marosi saw an innocuous right-wing cross turned back towards goal when it should have been cleared.
Even then Blair could easily have been penalised for a clumsy challenge on McConville that sent the Accrington man sprawling only for referee Seb Stockbridge to wave away his appeals.
Up to that point genuine moments of quality from Rovers had been few and far between. Tommy Rowe did bring a flying save from Jonny Maxted on the half hour after a jinking run, but otherwise the hosts had offered little.
By pumping aimless balls forward time and time again, Rovers simply played into the hands of the physically imposing Accrington defence.
Most of these were overhit, too, and it needed substitutes Kieran Sadlier and Ben Whiteman to provide an element of control to the home side’s play.
Sadlier was the first to go close with a thunderous shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past Maxted and against the bar.
John Marquis then fired just over from 20 yards as Rovers pushed and probed for a way back into the game.
The goal their improved play warranted finally arrived in the 90th minute, Andrew’s free-kick taking a wicked deflection off Stanley captain Seamus Conneeley to beat Maxted.
Those cheers quickly turned to jeers when fourth official Matthew Parry held up the board to reveal there would be just two minutes stoppage-time. Earlier, Stockbridge had raised a few laughs by booking Janoi Donacien for time-wasting at a throw-in – even though the Stanley man was only waiting for Tom Anderson to receive treatment on the pitch for a cut to his forehead.
The yellow card was quickly rescinded once a furious Jon Coleman and a gaggle of Accrington players had remonstrated with the official.
Whether this blunder was behind the unusually short amount of added time at the end of a half when there had been plenty of stoppages, only Stockbridge knows.
But there was still enough on the clock for Sadlier to thunder one last shot against a post before the ball bounced to safety.
Doncaster Rovers: Marosi; Blair, Downing, Anderson, Andrew; Crawford (Sadlier 46), Kane, Rowe; Wilks, Marquis, May (Whiteman 46). Unused substitutes: Jones, Butler,, Beestin, Smith, Lewis.
Accrington Stanley: Maxted; Sykes, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Donacien; McConville, Barlaser, Conneely, Clark; Smyth (Armstrong 69), Kee. Unused substitutes: Nolan, Zanzala, Rodgers, De Souze, Williams, Warner.
Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear).