Accrington Stanley ready for promotion push after Hartlepool win
John Coleman claims every game between now and the end of the season is like a cup final as his sixth-placed Accrington Stanley push for promotion from Sky Bet League Two.
Stanley beat Hartlepool 3-1 in their first game at home since mid-November due to the extreme weather after five postponements at the Wham Stadium.
Goals from Adam Buxton and a brace from Shay McCartan sealed a comfortable win although a late goal from United sub Rakish Bingham did mean Stanley could not relax.
"Every game is like a cup final now and that's what I have been drilling into the lads," said Coleman.
"This was a big game tonight and it was important we won as our fans have been starved of football so we didn't want to let them down.
"We play Exeter on Saturday and that's another cup final. We have a great set of lads here who are willing to listen and work hard and it will be all hands to the pump for the full squad as there are plenty of games between now and May.
"We played some fantastic football against Hartlepool. You have to give Hartlepool credit as they kept going until the end but we showed a lot of endeavour, our passing was good and we scored some great goals.
"Shay has been pushing for a starting place and he has been on fire in training. He has been frustrated the games have been off but he deserved his chance and took his goals well.
"Adam Buxton was another change I made tonight and sometimes they do come off. He scored a great free-kick and he has that in his locker. He could have a massive future in the game."
Buxton fired home a 20 yard free-kick after 23 minutes to open the scoring.
Ellis Harrison hit the post for United while Matt Pearson found the woodwork for Stanley before McCartan scored a solo effort on the stroke of half-time.
McCartan doubled his tally after 58 minutes from 20 yards before sub Bingham rifled home a consolation for United with 77 minutes gone.
Hartlepool manager Ronnie Moore was unhappy his side were not awarded a penalty as he felt Bingham was bundled over in the box with just minutes left.
"The goal on the stroke of half-time has killed us," said Moore.
"We hadn't played well in the first half but if you go in 1-0 you are always in the game.
"We let them play their football and we were all over the place in the first half and that's disappointing.
"After winning at Wycombe on Saturday we thought it had kick-started our season but for some reason we were lacklustre.
"We did get it back to 3-1 and then we should have had penalty and, at 3-2, who knows? But we can't give teams the goals like we did tonight.
"Their two strikers were clever against our young lads and they will learn but it's hard with the position we are in as we need to win games.
"We are looking over our shoulders and we will continue to be if we perform like that."