United were beaten in the 90th minute tonight as Accrington ended a run of five straight defeats with a 1-0 win through Terry Gornell's late winner.
Given the home side’s recent form there were understandably a few nerves as United started strongly. Hylton stabbed an early effort goalwards from a Mullins flick but was denied by a defender on the line, Hoban tried his luck from 25 yards with an ambitious volley and Hoban’s clever ball across the box then almost freed Hylton for a shot on ten minutes as the white Isinglass shirts started brightly. MacDonald chipped a 14th minute effort just over the top and then saw a low shot blocked once more 30 seconds later but an early goal proved elusive.
Having withstood that early pressure, Stanley stepped things up for the second part of the first half and had two efforts blocked by the excellent Jake Wright before Adam Buxton clipped a shot against the top of the bar with Ryan Clarke left helpless.
MacDonald fired two efforts high into the cold night sky, Piero Mingoia tested Clarke with a fine effort on 43 that the keeper tipped over at full stretch and it had been enterprising stuff from both sides despite a scoreless first half.
The home side were growing in confidence by the minute and Gerado Bruna crashed a ferocious effort against the bar from the left side of the box in the second minute of the second half as Accrington pushed the U’s back. Injuries to Mullins and Brindley (the latter replaced by Sam Long just before the hour) further disrupted their early rhythm but United have pace on the break and were still in the game.
Would either side hold their nerve and find a way of turning one point into three? United signalled their intent when they threw on James Roberts and the young striker might easily have scored but scooped Hoban's cross over the gaping goal on 74 minutes as the home side started to tire. O'Dowda sent a 20-yard effort into the hands of home keeper Scott Davies a minute later, Hoban's overhead kick drifted wide on 83 but Accrington sensed their moment. Two dangerous set pieces came and went but in the very last minute they were awarded a free kick on their right as a cross hit Skarz from a yard away. In came the free kick, up went the heads as the red shirts crowded Clarke out and when the ball dropped it only went as far as Gornell, who hooked it back over his head and into the net to win the game for Stanley
United's unbeaten away record ended and early domination was not converted into a win. No shortage of effort or commitment, just one defining moment that decided a very close game.
Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Darrell Fisher, Stats by OPTA