Colchester earned their first appearance in the FA Cup fourth round for 15 years here last night, a fixture that will take them to First Division Coventry, after a controversial and ill-tempered replay.
The visiting Conference side finished with the defender Steve Halford sent off and their manager, John Coleman, banished to the stands following a half-time fracas.
Coleman, a primary school teacher from Liverpool, appeared to have set a questionable example to his students as he lashed out following his disagreement near the dug-out. He said afterwards he was planning to make a formal complaint to the police, claiming he had been elbowed in the face by a steward as he attempted to leave the pitch.
Coleman was clearly enraged over two decisions by the referee, Phil Joslin, which played no small part in helping the hosts avoid what would have been a sixth FA Cup defeat by non-League opponents within the last nine years.
The first cause for complaint came in the 11th minute when a goal by Accrington's postman forward Rory Prendergast was disallowed for a push. Play swept to the other end, and Joe Keith put the home side ahead with an angled drive after a cross from the right by Craig Fagan, who is on loan from Birmingham City.
Cause for complaint number two arrived 10 minutes later when Joslin waved away the visitors' protests after Lutel James appeared to have been upended by the home keeper Simon Brown as he chased a loose ball.
Coleman had plenty on his mind at the break as he approached the referee, who was surrounded by a cordon of stewards. "I asked the referee if I could have a word," Coleman said. "He said no. But as I went to walk down the tunnel a steward pushed me back and then elbowed me in the face. I've never known anything like it in all my time in football.''
Trouble flared again in the 66th minute when Paul Howarth hacked down Scott McGleish in front of the dug-outs, sparking a confrontation between the home manager, Phil Parkinson, and Accrington's assistant manager, Jimmy Bell. Once again, police and stewards converged.
Halford was given his marching orders six minutes from time for foul and abusive language as he remonstrated with the linesman, claiming that Keith had been offside when he struck the decisive goal for the home side.
Paul Mullin narrowed the arrears with an 88th-minute header, but it was not enough for Accrington, who last reached the FA Cup fourth round in 1961, a year before they went bankrupt.
Colchester United (4-4-2): Brown; Halford, Fitzgerald, Chilvers, Stockley; Fagan (White, 88), Pinault, Izzet, Keith; McGleish, Andrews (Vine, 76). Substitutes not used: Toney, Baldwin, McKinney.
Accrington Stanley (4-4-2): Kennedy; Howarth (Smith, 83), Williams, Halford, Cavanagh; Flitcroft (Calcutt, 69), Cook, Procter, Prendergast; James, Mullin. Substitutes not used: Speare, Smith, Durnin, Hollis.
Referee: P Joslin (Newark).
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