John Coleman: Accrington Stanley 'won't be surprise package' in League Two

John Coleman
John Coleman described his side's slide out of the promotion race as a "nightmare"

Boss John Coleman has warned Accrington may not be able to repeat a promotion challenge in League Two next season.

Stanley missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference and then lost 3-2 on aggregate to AFC Wimbledon in their play-off semi-final tie.

"The last three weeks have been an absolute nightmare," he said.

"We'll go again next year but it will be more difficult. Teams will be wise to us and we won't be the surprise package."

World-class strike not enough after 'cruel' exit

Accrington finished the regular campaign with a 12-match unbeaten run, but a goalless draw at home to Stevenage on the final day meant they finished fourth in the table.

Having lost the first leg of their semi-final tie 1-0 to the Dons on Saturday, Stanley led 2-0 with half an hour remaining in the second leg at the Wham Stadium thanks to a penalty from Josh Windass and a long-range effort from Piero Mingoia.

However, Adebayo Akinfenwa's header set up extra-time and Lyle Taylor's 104th-minute strike settled the tie in AFC Wimbledon's favour.

"I'm sick at the moment but you've got to accept in life there are winners and losers. I've had my fair share," Coleman told BBC Radio Lancashire.

"We've played some unbelievable football this year - Piero's goal deserves to win the World Cup, never mind a play-off semi-final.

"The fact that we've been brought to the brink [of promotion] and each time it gets snatched away, it can be cruel.

"The thing that's annoying me at the moment is the ability to win big games is disappearing. Wins at Wycombe, Oxford and Orient mean nothing now."

Neal Ardley
Dons boss Neal Ardley celebrated with fans after the final whistle at Accrington

Ardley achieves boyhood dream

Reaching the final against Plymouth Argyle at Wembley on Monday, 30 May means AFC Wimbledon are one match away from reaching the third tier for the first time in their 14-year history.

The phoenix club were formed in 2002 in protest at the decision to allow the old Wimbledon FC to relocate to Milton Keynes, and the Dons won five promotions in nine years to reach the Football League in 2011.

Ardley, who played over 300 games for Wimbledon, has accomplished a boyhood dream to manage a side at the national stadium.

"Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a manager," he told BBC Radio London.

"I always dreamt of the possibility of one day walking my team out at Wembley. I've succeeded on something on the bucket list.

"After what they have been through over the last 14 years, to take the fans to Wembley and give them this excitement is immense.

"The connection between our team and our club has never been greater in my time here."

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