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‘Built like a swimwear model’ – John Coleman hails hat-trick hero Shaun Whalley

Shaun Whalley took the plaudits after Accrington’s win (Nigel French/PA)
Shaun Whalley took the plaudits after Accrington’s win (Nigel French/PA)

Accrington boss John Coleman heaped praise on Shaun Whalley after the forward’s first hat-trick powered Stanley to a first FA Cup first round win in four seasons.

Whalley, 35, scored first after just 45 seconds as Accrington eased to a 4-1 victory at Crawley to send the Red Devils crashing to a first defeat under interim boss Lewis Young.

Jake Hessenthaler briefly hauled Crawley level but Whalley and Ethan Hamilton scored before the break before Whalley completed his hat-trick six minutes after the interval.

Stanley had crashed out in the first round to League Two opponents in the previous three seasons and Coleman said: “It was an organised performance against a dangerous opponent.

“Crawley had been on a decent run but we defended well and saw the game out really well.

“Shaun Whalley lives his life brilliantly; he’s built like a swimwear model and has had a marvellous career.

“I offered him a fizzy drink the day before and he looked at me as though I had two heads.

“He’s not getting any younger but he runs himself into the ground and this is his first hat-trick. He should score more goals.”

Crawley had gone five games unbeaten since Young, 33, replaced the sacked Kevin Betsy but he was quick to admit the defeat was hard for him to take.

He said: “It’s a tough one to take; a difficult one for me to swallow.

“We had a good run of results in our previous five games but our game management was lacking. We’ve got to realise we can’t be that open.

“We created chances but some of the defending was not up to the mark and we’ve let ourselves down. It was really disappointing from the off.”

Crawley had hoped to have Jed Brown, of the YouTube group The Sidemen, on the bench but the move failed to materialise after it was discovered that he is already registered with another club – Fisher FC of the Southern Counties East Football League.

Brown and his brothers Manny and Tobi had been training with Crawley with the aim of competing for a spot on the bench.

The Sidemen have more than 130million combined subscribers on YouTube and millions more social media followers.

Said Young: “As long as they are training well they’ll be considered. If they are good enough they’ll be involved.

“Unfortunately they couldn’t be involved today but they are going to be signed for the foreseeable future.”