IT seemed as if the script had been written on Saturday - if only Bury had bothered to read it.
The first half was the best Stanley had played so far this season – and this against a Bury side that were pre-season title favourites and which played Plymouth off the park the week before.
And the man at the centre of virtually everything the Reds did was Kal Naismith.
After an up-and-down start to the season, Naismith was perhaps destined to get back to his best against the side which made a five-figure bid for him just over two weeks earlier.
The Scottish winger produced a fine finish to score a 19th-minute opener. He then looked to have doubled the Reds’ lead when after James Gray’s shot was saved, he hit a delightful lob from 30 yards with the outside of his left foot, only for Pablo Mills to clear off the line.
Less than a minute later, Bury striker Danny Rose grabbed an undeserved equaliser on 35 minutes.
But Naismith almost scored another stunner moments later, curling a 30-yard free-kick against a post with Bury keeper Rob Lainton stranded.
The Reds - and Naismith in particular - had exploited the space at the side of Bury’s three-man defence but the hosts switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 after the break.
That reduced Naismith’s impact while allowing Bury to put more pressure on Stanley. And winger Danny Mayor produced a superb strike in the 62nd minute.
That stole Naismith’s thunder and despite spending the last 20 minutes with 10 men after captain Jim McNulty was sent off, Bury hung on for all three points to condemn Stanley to their fourth defeat from five league games.
Asked if he was wondering how his side had lost, manager James Beattie replied: “You could say that, yeah!”
Naismith had hit a long-range effort too close to Lainton before breaking the deadlock.
He played a one-two with Nicky Hunt to get behind McNulty before showing the composure to run into the box and wait for the right moment to pull the trigger. And when that moment came he showed the class to curl a left-footed effort in off the far post.
Rose headed straight at Stanley keeper Joe Lumley, making his debut on loan from QPR, but the Reds remained on top.
Will Hatfield sent a looping header towards goal from a Naismith corner and Bury were relieved to see Rose on the line to head clear.
Naismith then put Gray through on goal and although Lainton blocked his shot, the rebound went straight to Naismith and the Bury keeper was relieved to see Mills covering behind him to clear Naismith’s goalbound effort.
And the Reds would rue that missed opportunity as moments later, Bury unlocked the Stanley defence with a fine move down the right.
Nicky Adams fed Ryan Lowe and his backheel found Tom Soares’ run into the box. Soares squared for Rose and he sidefooted past Lumley from 12 yards.
Nathan Cameron was booked for bringing down Hatfield, sparking an angry reaction from the Stanley players, and after a two-minute stoppage Naismith almost stunned the home crowd again, hitting the woodwork with an ambitious free-kick.
Yet Stanley had another chance to regain the lead before the break as Tom Aldred stayed forward following a free-kick and sidefooted wide from Piero Mingoia’s cut-back.
Bury then shored things up yet the Reds still made the first chance after the break, Gray scuffing his shot from Adam Buxton’s low cross from the right.
And again Stanley were made to pay for not taking their chances as Bury found Mayor on the left. The ex-Preston winger had barely done anything until then but burst into life, jinking inside Buxton and Luke Joyce before curling a 25-yarder inside the post.
McNulty was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Gray to give Stanley hope of coming back into it.
And although they dominated possession during the closing stages, the closest they went to equalising was when Buxton’s dipping cross found Shay McCartan and, stretching at the far post, the Stanley substitute could only turn the ball just wide.
Mayor’s moment of magic may have taken the glory from Naismith but Beattie is relieved he’s still a Stanley player – at least until January.
“I don’t want to sell my best players, we need them, and Kal showed his talent,” said the Reds’ boss. “Kal now needs to show that on a regular basis because he’s got that in his locker. When he’s on form like that he can take teams on single-handedly.”
On Bury’s bid, manager David Flitcroft added: “We were trying to get Danny Rose too, we had different things in the pipeline, and the way Accrington handled it through the press put us off.”
STANLEY: Lumley 6, Buxton 7, Aldred 7, Atkinson 6, Mustoe 6, Naismith 8, Joyce 7, Hunt 7 (Windass 72, 6), Mingoia 7 (Carver 90), Hatfield 7 (McCartan 74, 6), Gray 6. Subs: Bowerman, Hazeldine, Winnard, Lynch. ATTENDANCE: 3,381 (247 away).