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Ex-Stag Kee the key for Stanley success

Billy Kee.
Billy Kee.

Former Mansfield Town loanee striker Billy Kee has been key by name and nature this season as his goals have helped shoot Accrington Stanley to the very top of League Two.

Bogey side Stanley arrive at Mansfield Town tomorrow ( Friday 3pm) unbeaten in 13 Football League games against the Stags and with Kee in some of the best form of his career.

He is the Reds’ and the division’s top scorer with 22 goals in all competitions this season.

He has contributed important goals to earn plenty of points for the Reds and was instrumental in helping Stanley bounce back from their mid-season blip.

Kee is good friends with Alex MacDonald after they played together at Burton Albion.

Stags will also need to keep a tight rein on Sean McConville, who has come up with his fair share of assists from the left hand side of midfield.

A real play maker, he has also chipped in with a few goals this season and doesn’t shirk his responsibilities against the ball either.

To see Stanley topping the table with April on the horizon is a shock to many.

But boss John Coleman set his stall out from the first day of pre-season – targeting automatic promotion, and even the title, - so they are well on course.

Stanley had a bit of a wobble with a run of defeats in December but they have recovered well from that to knock Luton off top spot with an away win earlier this month.

They sit second on goal difference after not having a game last weekend so will be looking to use the Easter programme to return to the summit.

Whatever happens this season Coleman will always be a hero in the eyes of Stanley fans.

Some have been slow to forgive him for leaving for Rochdale in 2012.

But since his return in 2014 he has continued to make Accrington punch above their weight, having a near miss with automatic promotion in 2016, while going on to flirt with the top seven after a late push last season.

Stanley are operating with the second smallest budget in League Two so Coleman has, and continues to, work miracles.

He has a keen eye for young hungry talent who are eager to make their way in the game, but he has allied that with getting the best out of experienced players like Kee, McConville, Conneely and Hughes this season.

Stanley have had two failed attempts at the League Two play-offs during Coleman’s two spells in charge – which in itself was a massive achievement given what has been done on a shoestring over the years.

Coleman hails from Liverpool but is an honorary Accringtonian. If they go up this time he is sure to get the freedom of the Borough of Hyndburn.

With almost two weeks without a game there has been plenty of time for any knocks and niggles to recover.

Captain Seamus Conneely has had a couple of spells out with a groin problem picked up before Christmas but he returned to the side last month.

Stanley are expected to be unchanged from the team which celebrated a 3-1 home win over Forest Green Rovers on their last outing: Aaron Chapman, Janoi Donacien, Mark Hughes, Jimmy Dunne, Callum Johnson, Jordan Clark, Seamus Conneely, Scott Brown, Sean McConville, Kayden Jackson, Billy Kee.

Interestingly, John Coleman has not used any substitutes in the last four games.