When Ray Putterill struck home his wonder goal equaliser on the stroke of half-time it looked like it could another one of those special Stanley nights.
After years more used to playing Gateshead, Blyth Spartans and Darlington, it looked at one stage like the Reds could undo Premier League Newcastle on Wednesday in front of a 4,089-strong colourful and noisy crowd at the Crown Ground.
Everyone was up on their feet when Putterill’s 25-yard strike hit the back of the net – one the 21-year old will rewind his Sky for time and time again after battling injuries which had threatened his career.
It seemed the script was written for Putterill to be the match hero but Newcastle hadn’t read it and, despite fielding a totally different starting XI to their last Premier League outing, they battled back with two goals which eventually denied the Reds a third-round Carling Cup place for the first time in their history.
Sean Hessey got his first Stanley goal late into injury time but it was too late for a battling Accrington to chalk up another of their against-the-odds victories.
However at the moment when Putterill’s strike hit the back of the net, it did seem like the Reds could be television stars again and cause a massive cup upset.
"The goal wasn’t bad," smiled Putterill after the match. "I could see their lad closing me down so I just got the ball out of my feet and struck it. I loved it when it went in.
"I don’t know what I was thinking, I just saw it hit the back of the net and I ran the length of the pitch to celebrate.
"I will watch the goal again but I am not sure about my performance – I was disappointed with myself and the gaffer was disappointed at half-time and I think the goal just about got me out of it."
Manager John Coleman was critical of his side’s show despite being massive underdogs for the tie but, while there may have been mistakes, his sides can never be faulted for their effort and attitude.
In a party atmosphere at the Crown Ground, Newcastle came with some of their big guns such as Alan Smith and Joey Barton on the bench but still had quality on the field which could do damage.
And full back Ryan Taylor staked his claim for a Premier League first team spot, racing from midfield to strike the ball beautifully into the top corner of Ian Dunbavin’s goal to open the scoring.
There wasn’t a lot the keeper could do about the goal but the Reds had given Taylor time and space to conjure up his own effort.
And Coleman was fuming: "The lad has hit a great shot but he has travelled a long way with the ball and we had worked on it in training, not letting the full back travel with the ball, so that was disappointing."
After a bright start by the Reds, a Toon goal had been threatening with Stanley frontman Andy Parkinson defending manfully to clear Nile Ranger’s header off the line, while Dunbavin had pulled off a save for the cameras to keep out Peter Lovenkrand’s looping header.
Once the goal went in, one neutral fan remarked that Stanley would suffer now as they weren’t the tallest of sides as they lined up against what seemed like giants in the Newcastle camp.
But, while Shola Ameobi, Lovenkrands and Ranger were strong, powerful figures, the Reds did more than compete with them.
One goal from the Premier League big boys could have caused some teams to fold, but the Reds kept pressing and Putterill conjured something out of nothing as the injury time board went up. A long Johnny Bateson throw led to a defensive miskick which gifted the ball to the ex-Liverpool man 25 yards out and he made space and let rip.
It was fitting that the midfielder grabbed his first Stanley goal and, after a year off battling with injuries and working to get himself fit, it was a superb way to show he was back.
Level at 1-1 at half-time and the Sky bosses would have believed they’d picked the right game to see an upset – with the Reds fans believing that too as they sang, danced and unveiled their tribute to United legend Bobby Robson in one of their flags, which was appreciated by the Geordie followers.
But Coleman didn’t appreciate his side’s first half show and made it known, sending his team out with the bit between their teeth after the break and Lovenkrands had to scramble Putterill’s effort off the line and Charlie Barnett hammered a ball just wide of the goal within minutes of the restart.
The Reds were seeking the upper hand but then suffered a killer blow when, on the visitors’ first attack of the half, bad defending let Lovenkrands knock the ball down in the area and Ameobi got in front of his marker to slot the ball past Dunbavin from four yards out.
That goal, so soon after half-time, was a massive blow but it isn’t in the Reds mentality to pack in and luckily both sets of players then treated the watching viewers to goalmouth action as it came thick and fast.
Parkinson, playing the lone frontman role in his first start for the Reds this season, did keep getting the ball with some decent passing moves by the home side but every time he turned around he was surrounded by the imposing Toon defence.
Stanley defender Dean Winnard had to stick his leg out to clear Ranger’s follow-up off the line after Dunbavin denied Ameobi and the Reds stopper superbly kept out Kazenga Lualua as the Toon second string looked to give manager Chris Hughton a more comfortable night.
Coleman knew he had to change it around if his side were to stand a chance and he did so, looking for a Doncaster repeat.
In the last round, the Reds boss put on Chris Turner for Johnny Bateson against the Championship side at the Keepmoat, and it turned the game in the Reds favour.
But this time, it worked against them as, while they were still getting organised at the back with the switch, Lualua’s ball from the left bounced off Hessey at the near post and Dunbavin had to push it out, but it only went as far as Lovenkrands, who stuck his leg up high to hook home the third.
It did then seem game over but nobody had told Stanley who, to their credit, enjoyed their best spell of the match with Dutch keeper Tom Krul pulling off some wonder saves.
Jimmy Ryan’s blast was somehow superbly tipped away by Krul; Edwards had a powerful goalbound effort cleared off the line and Krul pulled off a wonder save to deny Putterill a second from close range after hard work by Parkinson.
The home side kept pressing and it was Newcastle who were throwing their bodies in front of the ball to repel the Reds attacks.
As three minutes of injury-time went up, both sides made sure the fans stayed hooked on Sky.
First Lualua hit the post after breaking through in a bid to kill the Reds off and then Putterill had a go before the ball bounced out to Hessey on the left-hand side of the area and he rifled home his effort in the 92nd minute.
Every time the Reds went forward in the final seconds, the crowd urged them on and Turner hit one in the dying embers of the game which was blocked – how the Crown Ground would have rocked if that had gone in.
But the Reds ran out of time and their Carling Cup venture ended for another year – but that Wednesday night, live on Sky against Newcastle, will not be quickly forgotten.