IT’S often said that watching the ups and downs of Accrington Stanley is enough to force fans to turn to drink.
Rarely does a game pass without incident and a subsequent bar room debate.
And even though last Saturday’s goalless draw at Dagenham was a relatively uneventful affair with no goals, no cards and no contentious decisions, boss John Coleman is still willing to dish out the booze.
Coleman is offering a free tipple to the 59 hardy Stanley fans who braved the torrential rain and biting wind in Essex to cheer on the Reds, including the brave 28 who stood behind the goal with the rain lashing their faces for the entire first half – even if they might still prefer a piping hot bovril.
"The fans were absolutely magnificent," said Coleman as the rain continued after the final whistle at Victoria Road.
"I am sorry I didn’t get on and give them a clap but I didn’t want to get my shoes dirty!
"But if anyone who was at Dagenham is in the bar tomorrow after Tranmere, I will buy them a drink. It is the least I can do."
And the manager admitted it was wine - well wine gums - which got him through the final nervy minutes as the play-off chasing Daggers looked for the winner in an even clash.
Stanley had hit the post twice and Paul Mullin had forced a superb save out of the Daggers keeper Tony Roberts, who Stanley fans have enjoyed good banter with over the years.
But then the home side came back and piled on the pressure close to the end and the game was on a knife edge to keep everyone biting their finger nails (even with gloves on!) until the end.
"I just chomped on a couple of wine gums in the final ten minutes to keep calm," admitted the Reds chief who was curteous enough to offer them to the freezing press contingent after the game.
And that reflected how the game was played as a whole - in good spirit, with whole-hearted performances from the two former Conference champions despite the horrendous conditions.
Okay it was a second successive Reds’ draw - another unusual statistic for the normally win or lose Stanley who last had two league draws on the bounce in September 2006 - but it was a fair result from sides who have the utmost respect for each other.
"Accrington are one of the better teams to come here to Victoria Road this season," said Daggers assistant boss Terry Harris.
And Coleman admitted: "Give Dagenham their due, they got stronger in the second half and put us under pressure."
But the Reds were able to boast a rare clean sheet - it has only happened twice in 17 games this season - and it was more pleasing that it was against one of the hottest strike-forces in League Two in Ben Strevens and Paul Benson.
Despite the Daggers averaging two goals a game this season, their forwards were limited by a Stanley backline which Coleman admitted are doing well - but he is not getting carried away despite them looking a long way from repeating the 83-league goals they conceded last season - the worst in the league.
"It couldn’t get much worse than last season could it?" said Coleman.
"I will reserve judgement on the defence until the end of the season but the back four were magnificent at Dagenham."
However it could have been different story if the Reds had taken one of three good chances.
With only 11 minutes on the clock, winger John Miles made something from nothing as he looked for his second goal of the season.
But, although Roberts was beaten, the woodwork kept out his curling 25 yard strike.
The Reds were putting a lot of free kicks into the box but were unable to capitalise while Jimmy Ryan was again a threat on the wing with some good runs forward but the finishing touch was letting Stanley down.
Ryan did, however, think he had found it just before the break but his 20 yard strike was deflected as the Reds hit the same upright for the second time in the game.
That’s not to say John Still’s side weren’t a danger as the treacherous conditions almost caught out keeper Kenny Arthur just before the interval.
He came out of his area to head a clearance and the ball fell nicely for Strevens but the stopper recovered to stop the striker finding the empty net.
And the Daggers continued in the same vein after the break with Matt Ritchie finding room to put a couple of good crosses in although the Reds defence were solid.
Stanley did then have a lucky escape on the hour when a corner came to the far post and found unmarked skipper Mark Arber. He he instinctively stuck out his foot four yards out and the ball could have gone anywhere but it fell nicely into Arthur’s arms.
And then came the Reds best chance with 20 minutes remaining.
Defender Phil Edwards, of all people, charged forward and had a go at Roberts’ goal from 30 yards out. The Daggers keeper spilled the shot and there was Paul Mullin to pounce.
The Stanley fans would have been raising their arms to celebrate but Roberts stood up to stop the captain finding the empty net.
"I see Mullers everyday in training so I wouldn’t put my house on him scoring," joked Coleman.
"But, in all honesty, he did well to get into that situation. He is obviously disappointed he didn’t score but he didn’t realise how much time he had and you have to make a snap decision."
Then Coleman used the wine gums rather than the traditional manager’s chewing gum in the last 10 minutes to keep his heart-rate down as Dagenham made sure it was an uneasy ending.
Mark Nwokeji had a free header but somehow directed it wide from a Peter Gain cross and the Dagenham sub had another chance at the death but again wasted it.
It wasn’t all one-way though as Robbie Williams also had a go with a dipping shot from distance which Roberts almost carried over his goalline while sub Kallum Higginbotham got the ball in the area - but the Daggers defence recovered to shrug him off it.
A breathless finish to an eventful goalless draw.
"At the end of the game, I possibly would have been happy with a point," said Coleman.
"But, in the first half, I thought we played so well we could go on and win it.
"Both teams showed a great attitude for the game. Dagenham asked some questions of us in the second half but we gave the right response and have shown a good character.
"We did have chances to win the game but in the past we maybe would have lost games like this.
"In the past, we have played well, battered teams, missed chances and lost 1-0 but hopefully that has gone.
"We don’t get many clean sheets and if we keep another two then the kilt comes back out," added Coleman.
That was in reference to the Reds’ chief promise at the start of the season to keeper Arthur that he would wear a kilt if the Scot kept three league clean sheets.
And the Stanley fans might be buying Coleman a drink if the game he has to wear it at is as freezing cold as Dagenham.