Stanley saw a two-goal lead swept away by Rochdale at the Crown Ground on Saturday as the visitors demonstrated why they are destined to finish League Two champions.
The hosts stood toe to toe with their high-flying opponents for an hour before scoring twice in quick succession to seize the initiative.
The impressive Billy Kee had a hand in both goals. Firstly he slipped an accurate pass for Michael Symes to beat the offside trap and slip a shot wide of Frank Fielding in the Dale goal.
Minutes later, Kee showed great composure in waiting for John Miles to find a gap, timing his pass to perfection and sending Miles in for a one-on-one with Fielding which he won with ease, drawing the goalkeeper off his line before clipping the ball over him into the net.
But just as home supporters were starting to wonder what all the fuss surrounding the division’s runaway leaders was all about, Keith Hill’s team offered a late demonstration of their winning mentality. Once skipper Gary Jones had pulled a goal back the momentum swung alarmingly in their favour and it seemed there was no stopping them as attack followed attack.
Jones levelled courtesy of a heavily deflected shot before Chris O’Grady netted his 20th goal of the season on 83 minutes, set up neatly by former Stanley loanee Kallum Higginbotham.
By that stage the teams had both been reduced to 10 men – Symes and Jason and Jason Taylor seeing red following an altercation. As a result, Stanley lost their focal point, handing Rochdale’s cause a boost.
Higginbotham’s impressive cameo rocketed out of orbit when he netted an outrageous stoppage time goal. There was more than a hint of handball when Chris Dagnall charged down Dean Bouzanis’ clearance, but Higginbotham was quick to seize upon the chance and sent a long-range effort sailing over the Stanley stopper and into the net.
"I was disappointed," said Coleman afterwards. "We got ourselves in a good position and then, when the second goal went in, we fell off our bike and couldn’t get back on it.
"They got right back into the game at 2-0. I thnk if it had been 2-0 for five or 10 minutes we would have gone on to win it by more but that’s why they are going to win the league.
"They put us under pressure and we couldn’t cope with it. I thought those days of us buckling under pressure had gone but they have just been lying dormant.
"The fourth shouldn’t have counted – Chris Dagnall got away with a hand ball by holding his face – but we weren’t going to get the equaliser so it didn’t really make any difference.
"I do not think we did enough in the first half. Still, we scored two goals but we didn’t really have to do anything to score them two goals. I do not know if we thought we had won it them but at 2-1 there was only one team in it, they murdered us and that’s why they are going to be champions.
"They are the best team in the league, we gave them a game but we had to keep them out longer at 2-0 but we let them get their tails up. Still it is just ifs and buts now.
"In the first half we won the midfield battle and we won our two defenders against their two strikers. In the second half, we lost the midfield battle and that’s why we lost the game."