Accrington boss John Coleman praised playmaker Joe Pritchard who scored after nine months out injured in the 4-1 win over Sutton.

Former Tottenham trainee Pritchard came on at half-time with Stanley already 1-0 up after Shaun Whalley had been upended by Craig Clay and Tommy Leigh slotted home the penalty in the first minute of first-half added time.

Leigh curled home the second after 57 minutes before Pritchard found Rosaire Longelo to fire home the third in the 63rd minute.

Omari Patrick blasted the ball home for Sutton after 64 minutes before Pritchard slotted home Whalley’s cross in the fifth minute of added time.

Pritchard suffered an Achilles tendon injury last December and it has been a long road back for him.

“I am delighted for Joe,” said Coleman, whose side had lost their previous two league games. “It’s been a long, hard struggle for him and there has been no-one more dedicated than him and no-one who deserves it more than him.

“I am so glad he got his goal, it was great to see him put the ball in the net.

“You could see his flashes of brilliance which should light this league up.

“We had a very strong bench and we have got competition for places which we have been craving and hopefully will help us be successful.

“I am delighted to get into positive goal difference and delighted for the win as this was a tough game.

“I don’t think 4-1 reflected the score, we did step it up in the second half but they had plenty of chances. Thankfully we got the goals at the right time.

“We have been stuck on 10 points for a couple of games so I am glad to get off that.”

Sutton have now lost seven successive league games and manager Matt Gray, who had his 42nd birthday on Saturday, is asking for everyone to stick together as they sit in the bottom two.

“The success Sutton have had over the last four years has been built on solid defence, resilience and being hard to beat and not conceding soft goals which we are at the moment.

“We are making mistakes and they are being punished. We are working hard to eradicate this.

“We also need to be ruthless and more clinical.

“It wasn’t a penalty in the first half and the first goal is always important. We need the rub of the green as well.

“It was soon 3-0 but we showed our spirit and togetherness to get a goal back and had a couple of chances but they got a fourth on the breakaway. To lose 4-1 was harsh to take.

“It is a tough situation but we will get through it. I feel like we aren’t too far away. Me, the staff and the players have got to keep grafting away and we have all got to stick together as we will get out of it.”