JOHN Coleman joked it is laugh a minute at Accrington Stanley at the moment as a number of his players have been ‘in stitches.’
Chris King had to have a cut sewn up after last week’s Luton clash; Robbie Williams had five stitches above his eye after a training ground clash on Tuesday and Phil Edwards had seven stitches in a gash on the back of his leg from the win on Tuesday night.
But, despite the rash of injuries, Coleman and his team are certainly smiling after the Reds belied their league position and saw off promotion favourites Shrewsbury to again lift the spirits of the Accrington fans on Tuesday.
The most loyal of home supporters might have feared the worst against a Shrews team who could have gone top with a win over Stanley and who have scored 12 goals in their previous three games.
And even when the quick-off-the-mark Reds were 2-0 up within just six minutes, fears of a "Bradford" comeback meant no one could quite settle back into their seats at the FES.
But Stanley held on thanks to a solid show - and two wins in two games means the Reds have suddenly gone to one of the in-form teams after a seven match winless run.
"It was magnificent against possibly the team who are favourites for the league," enthused boss Coleman after the game.
"Shrewsbury are a very good side but maybe we got the belief from our win at Luton on Saturday and that carried us through and there wasn’t too many scarey moments.
"Shrewsbury are strong going forward and to limit them to not too many chances is testament to how well we defended.
"Our two early goals were well-worked and perhaps we needed another to ease our nerves but we came through.
"When we are on the ball we are a good side and we have been working on keeping the ball and trying to drum it home.
"The players have got the belief in themselves and each other and we played some excellent football."
The belief was there from the off as Stanley stunned the Shrews with just 72 seconds on the clock.
John Mullin found ex-Shrew Jimmy Ryan on the right flank and he played in the perfect cross. Paul Mullin flicked it on and it fell nicely for Terry Gornell to line up his shot and fire home his third goal in three games.
And the Reds were still celebrating when number two quickly followed on six minutes. Livewire John Miles did all the work down the left hand side and found the head of Paul Mullin who made no mistake from six yards against the club who tried to buy him in January for £75,000.
Shrews manager Paul Simpson felt Mullin was off-side. "Everyone has said it was off-side but I cannot see from where I was and there is nothing we can do about it now," said the visiting boss.
Two-nil up with six minutes gone and the Reds fans couldn’t quite believe it. And, with ten minutes on the clock, there could have been a third but Phil Edwards couldn’t find the target in a good position.
That was his last real action as the right back was caught from behind and stretchered off and the Reds did have to reshuffle their backline.
Ex-Shrews defender Colin Murdock, who had been suffering from an eye infection, came into the heart of the defence - and was firm against Town’s main striker Grant Holt - while Robbie Williams, with a rare start this season, moved to right back.
It did shake the Reds initially with the visitors then enjoying a spell of pressure.
Already Stanley had had a let off when Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson headed over in a good position and then their dangerman Ben Davies rattled the crossbar with a 20-yard free kick.
And the Shrews did then force a number of corners without seriously troubling Reds keeper Kenny Arthur.
The home side, though, would have expected a backlash against the promotion chasers after what should have been a rocket by Simpson at the interval.
But it was the Reds who came out and played the better football. Ryan and Miles again showed their strength on the wings while John Mullin was orchestrating things in midfield
Gornell, who picked up a knock in the first half, kept pressing while Paul Mullin was all over the park and the defence didn’t let top scorer Holt get near the Reds goal.
And Stanley could have extended their lead to heap more misery on Shrewsbury soon after the re-start.
Ryan's volley was heading into the back of the net but Shrews defender Marc Teirney blocked the effort.
Simpson had to change it and he made a double substitution on 55 minutes bringing on Richard Walker and Chris Humphrey.
And they could have got one back immediately but Michael Jackson's header hit the back of Kieran Charnock and bounced to safety.
And, in a lively game, Stanley's Man of the Match Miles then had a chance to put the game beyond the visitors when he burst into the area but Shrews stopper Luke Daniels did well to deny him on 57 minutes. "I should have done better," admitted Miles.
However, Davies made sure it was going to be a nervy end when he curled a 20 yard free kick into the net on 68 minutes after Grant had been fouled by Murdock.
Memories of the Bradford late defeat came flooding back but surely that wouldn’t be repeated.
But the Reds fans’ hearts were in their mouths when sub Humphreys raced into the area but Arthur pulled off a stunning save to deny Shrews an equaliser.
Coleman brought on loan winger Kallum Higginbotham for his Stanley debut and he showed some good touches and continued to keep up the high work ethic as the Reds shut out the Shrews.
And it was visiting keeper Daniels who was next in action, pushing out a Ryan free kick on 78 minutes as the game in a frantic finale. But, unlike Bradford, Stanley held firm.
"Terry and Paul have developed an understanding now," added Coleman. "They compliment each other and the big bonus is they are prepared to work their socks off. All our players are and now they have got to keep it up."