Pre-Season Preview: Accrington Stanley
A closer look at Everton's opponents on Wednesday 17 July.
Following a training camp in Austria, Everton have returned to English soil to ramp up their preparations for the new campaign.
The second friendly on Roberto Martinez’s pre-season schedule is a short trip to Lancashire to face Accrington Stanley.
Here we take a closer look at the League Two club, a side managed by a familiar old face…
Name: Accrington Stanley
When do we play them? Everton will make the 45-mile journey to Accrington for the midweek friendly on Wednesday 17 July. The match will commemorate the 125th anniversary of Everton's first Football League match in September 1888.
Where? The game will take place at the Store First Stadium, which holds a capacity of just over 5,000. More commonly known as the Crown Ground, it has been home to the Lancashire club since 1968.
How can I watch it? Everton's allocation of 1,622 tickets for the fixture have sold out and supporters are advised not to travel without a ticket. If you aren't making the journey to Accrington, the game will be broadcast exclusively live on evertontv. Click here to learn more about how you can view this and four more of Everton’s pre-season fixtures.
Who’s their boss? James Beattie. The former Everton striker was named the new manager of Stanley in May following the departure of Leam Richardson, who took up the assistant manger’s position at Chesterfield.
Our expert, Lancashire Telegraph reporter Alex James, is optimistic Beattie will make a smooth transition from the pitch into the dugout.
“James played a part last year with the coaching and he did well in his career with Everton, so he is respected for what he has done,” he said. “Time will tell as it is a big job, but he has the respect of the squad and the fans will give him a chance, so there is a lot less pressure for him.”
Who’s their best player? Summer signing Nicky Hunt will add a touch of Premier League pedigree to the Stanley in his first season with the club. Hunt, a right back, played for Bolton Wanderers between 2001 and 2010, becoming a first team regular in the 2003/04 season while the Wanderers were still in the top-flight. During his time at the Reebok Stadium, Hunt went on to gain nine England under 21 caps but failed to make an appearance for the senior England side.
Who’s their unsung hero? Peter Murphy. A stalwart at the back, the 23-year-old defender also provides Stanley with a dangerous attacking option down the right flank. Liverpool-born, he progressed through the youth system at the Crown Ground and scored five goals in 50 appearances last season, his most impressive campaign to date.
How did they get on last season? Stanley will compete in League Two for an eighth successive year after winning their battle against the drop last campaign. With only a few games remaining it looked as though the club would face relegation. But a run of five wins from their final eight fixtures saw the Lancastrians finish three points clear of the bottom two, Aldershot Town and Barnet.
Any Everton connections? Aside from Beattie, there are several links between Accrington and Everton. Two recently departed members of the first team squad Lee Molyneux and Francis Jeffers were former Blues. Molyneux departed for Crewe earlier this month, while ex-Everton forward Jeffers was released by Stanley at the end of last season. Jeffers had joined Stanley in March and scored two goals in seven appearances. Molyneux and current Accrington defender Laurence Wilson started their careers at Goodison Park but did not make any first team appearances for the Blues.
Have we played them before? The two sides have met on 11 occasions, including on the first ever weekend of the Football League in September 1888, a game Everton won 2-1 thanks to a brace from George Fleming. All of those meetings were against the original Accrington Stanley, a club which was liquidated in 1966 before reforming two years later.
What does the expert say about them? Stanley beat the odds and survived the drop after a tremendous run of results towards the end of last season under the leadership of Richardson and Beattie.
Despite the way they finished the season though, Alex James feels the club will face an uphill battle once again in 2013/14.
“Every season they have the aim of surviving,” he says. “Their gate and wage bill is the lowest in the Football League, so each year staying up is an achievement. They have had a lot of players out of contract and I think they had four contracted at the end of the season out of the whole squad.”
How has their pre-season been so far? Accrington are yet to lose a game this pre-season having won all three of their warm-up fixtures. Yet to play a home friendly this season, Everton’s visit will be the first at the Crown Ground since James Beattie took the manager’s post earlier this year. Stanley have recorded a 4-2 win at non-league Nelson, a 4-0 victory over North West Counties outfit AFC Darwen and 3-2 triumph against Conference North club Altrincham.
Watch Everton take on Accrington Stanley exclusively live on evertontv. Click here to purchase the game individually or as part of our pre-season package.