Blues cup curse continues with defeat at the Wham stadium
Town’s miserable run in the FA Cup continues with Billy Kee’s close range header giving Accrington a place in the fourth round.
The Stanley striker forced the ball in on 73 minutes after Blues failed to deal with a free-kick.
Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop both went close before the goal and Freddie Sears was twice denied late on as Town bowed out at the first time of asking for the ninth successive year.
Callum Elder was handed his debut after joining on loan from Leicester this week, while Town included two former Accrington players in the starting line-up in Kayden Jackson and Toto Nsiala. Will Keane, another recent loan signing, was included among the substitutes.
Gwion Edwards found some space down the right flank in the game’s first opening, his cross smothered away from danger by Sean McConville, then Sears, Town skipper for the day, had too much on his delivery from the left.
Matt Pennington was in the right place to prevent Kee getting a sight of goal, then Sam Finley forced Bart Bialkowski into the first save of the game after cutting in from the right.
Bialkowski held firm from Jordan Clark’s low drive, Flynn Downes picking up a yellow card after a clash with Finley, Nsiala timing his tackle to perfection as Clark - who was in the thick of the action - got around the back.
Nsiala threw himself in the way of Clark’s strike inside the box as Accrington carried the game to Town, Nolan responded for Blues after a break but the midfielder was well over with a 20 yarder.
Clark continued to carry the main threat for Stanley and it needed Bialkowski to get down low to his left to beat out his volley, the Town ‘keeper quickly off his line seconds later to stop Finley getting in.
Connor Ripley snatched Sears’ dangerous cross as Jackson looked to pounce, Andy Mangan ripping a shot at goal that was beaten out, then Clark finished the half with a header wide of the target.
Teddy Bishop replaced Downes at the break in the game’s first change, Dan Barlaser, who pulled the strings for Stanley in the middle of the park , prominent as the second-half got underway with a clever pass that saw Finley’s cross cleared.
Ripley had an anxious race back to his goalline to clear after Ben Richards-Everton’s header had by-passed him, Bishop firing wide from distance, then the midfielder, who was beginning to carry a threat for Blues, pulled a left foot effort wide.
Bishop fizzed another strike from distance wide, Stanley making their first change with Scott Brown on for Andy Mangan, with Keane also entering the fray, Jackson making way.
Ripley saved well from Nolan’s strike as Blues pressed for the opener but on 73 minutes Stanley got the breakthrough, McConville’s free-kick headed back across goal by Richards-Everton and Kee headed in from six yards.
Stanley went close again from a corner, with Richards-Everton’s header cleared, Ellis Harrison then on for Nolan.
Town were denied an equaliser with Sears’ shot deflected wide by Ripley as the game entered the final exchanges, Sears then dragging his shot just wide of the far post as Blues’ stay in the cup ended early again.
Accrington: Ripley, Johnson, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Clark, McConville, Finley, Sykes, Mangan (Brown 66), Barlaser, Kee. Subs not used: Maxted, Williams, Mingoia, Perritt, Conneely, Watson.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Pennington, Nsiala, Elder, Nolan (Harrison 80), Edwards, Downes (Bishop 46), Dozzell, Sears, Jackson (Keane 66). Subs not used: Gerken, Chambers, Kenlock, Lankester. Booked: Downes.