Accrington Stanley started life after James Beattie with a 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon thanks to a late James Gray goal.

The striker coolly converted into the bottom corner with just six minutes left to give Paul Stephenson a win in his first game in temporary charge of the club, and a second in as many games for the club.

Stephenson’s team selection for his first game in charge was the same as James Beattie’s last with Stanley unchanged from the 3-2 victory over Tranmere last Saturday.

The Dons began well and their seven-goal marksman Matt Tubbs was presented with an early opportunity as he was played into the area on the right-hand side but he skewed his shot well wide of Joe Lumley’s net.

Sean Rigg was the first player to go into the referee’s book for a late foul on Nicky Hunt before Rob Atkinson rose highest from a Kal Naismith corner but his header went past the post

Stanley were dominating proceedings and looked excellent when keeping the ball on the floor, almost profiting from a slick move as skipper Luke Joyce slashed wide from 18 yards.

The half petered out into an insipid affair and there was little goalmouth action from either side. James Gray almost wormed his way in on goal but James Shea was there to gather the ball ahead of the Northern Irish international.

After creating little for the majority of the afternoon, the visitors almost took the lead as Sean Rigg saw a header come back off the bar, with Piero Mingoia clearing in the ensuing goalmouth scramble.

At the other end, Naismith spotted Shea off his line and went for the spectacular from all of 50 yards but it sailed over the crossbar and Gray shot wide from the edge of the area.

Both sides exchanged chances as Tubbs raced away for Neal Ardley’s side and got behind the Stanley rearguard but his shot was straight at Lumley and the goalkeeper gathered with ease whilst Andy Procter curled over the bar from 20 yards for the Reds.

Tubbs then curled wide as he found a pocket of space in the area but the scoring was opened with the next attack – by Stanley.

With the clock ticking towards injury time, a goalless draw seemed inevitable until Gray poached his fifth goal of the season, deftly curling the ball into the far corner after collecting Buxton’s pass at the end of a slaloming run in which he breezed past a couple of Wimbledon defenders.

The Dons came close in their search for a leveler as Tubbs fired straight into the gloves of Lumley before George Francomb sent an effort over the bar.

As the fourth official raised the board to indicate four minutes of added time, visiting skipper Alan Bennett rose highest to meet a corner with a powerful header but Lumley produced a superb save to push the ball away from danger, preserve a clean-sheet and collect all three points.

Stanley: Lumley; Hunt, Aldred, Atkinson, Buxton; Mingoia (Windass 68), Joyce, Procter, Naismith; Carver, Gray (Hatfield 90).
Subs: Simpson, Winnard, Goulding, McCartan, Bowerman.