STANLEY manager John Coleman is a firm favourite with the Accrington fans - but he appreciates them just as much.
88 made the trip to Grimsby to be swamped by the 6,500 home supporters with the game almost a sell-out as Mike Newell’s side battle against the drop.
But it was the Reds small band of followers who could be heard the loudest - and they witnessed the day Stanley made sure of their League Two survival for the third year running.
Two of the players especially - Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams - must have been worried about how they would be greeted after the betting scandal of the week before.
Yet they had no reason to worry as from start to finish the Stanley fans danced, sung, whipped their shirts off and stayed to say thanks to all the players for their show.
And Coleman acknowledged their part in the vital win which secured his side’s safety.
"The fans were magnificent. They were outnumbered by 64 to one and to be in that ratio and be as loud and boisterous as they were is superb and I would like personally to thank them.
"The fans were as important today as any player playing in that game."
While the fans were the 12th man, it was well done to all 11 players in what was a tricky tie both after the events off the field and due to Grimsby’s precarious position.
Williams and captain Cavanagh, at the centre of the betting scandal, got the nod which, while Coleman understood may not be appreciated by all, he felt it was the right move.
"We had to make a decision and it wasn’t taken lightly. We have taken the fans opinions on board and I know some didn’t want them to play but we have got to be fair to everyone in this league.
"It is not in my nature to play weakened sides and we have got to fair to the teams in the league and fair to the players themselves.
"I am angry as anyone about the whole thing but I would like the fans to respect the fact that we are trying to do a job for Accrington Stanley and when this whole unsavoury incident is over, the club is the injured party and I don’t think people should lose sight of that fact.
"The allegations is not match fixing and the lines seemed to have got blurred. Anyone who watched that Bury game knows it wasn't fixed. Their keeper got in the team of week, we should have won that game and I defy anyone to tell me otherwise."
That day the Reds put on a good show but didn’t get their rewards but at Blundell Park on Saturday they did.
Colin Murdock, who came in for the flu-ridden Kieran Charnock, was superb against the tricky Barry Conlon with the Bradford loan striker having scored three goals in his three previous games.
Centre back Phil Edwards was also at his best, Cavanagh was strong especially a last ditch tackle on Jean-Louis Akpra Akpro who had raced unmarked into the area, Williams did his bit and goalkeeper Kenny Arthur pulled off two world class saves which must have scouts watching him.
"We have done some last ditch defending well and if anyone has seen a better League Two centre half than Phil Edwards today then I don’t know what game they have been watching," continued the boss.
"He was absolutely magnificent today and when Phil is in that type of mood nothing gets past him.
"To keep a clean sheet against the strike force they have got is good going for us, Barry Conlon is always a handful.
"I might regret now saying if we keep 15 clean sheets I will have the ball kicked at my face as there is every possibility if we defend like that."
And while his defence deserved the praise for a 12th clean sheet of the season, Michael Symes at last got his first Stanley goal.
The Shrewsbury loan man must have felt it was never going to come after shooting wide early on and having a goal disallowed for off-side.
But then, Chris Turner did all the hard work on the right wing and played in a perfect cross which the rangey Symes bullet headed into the net in the 71st minute. He enjoyed it and deserved it.
"It was a fantastic goal," enthused Coleman. "It was a great ball in by Chris - the cross makes the goal. Chris is a good player, a fantastic prospect and fantastic talent."
Stanley had other chances - John Miles went on a run early on, weaved his way past three players and into the area and lined up to shoot with Wayne Henderson pushing it away. It would have been a contender for goal of the season.
Cavanagh and Williams both had shots which tested the Mariners keeper - how they would have loved for one of them to go in - while Andy Procter almost doubled the advantage with nine minutes left but Henderson one-handedly tipped his goalbound effort away.
But Arthur was also in fine form, turning a Conlon long range effort around the post and then producing a wonder save after Nick Hegarty’s blast.
And he also again denied Conlon - who Stanley's Paul Mullin replaced at Bradford - when the striker hooked the ball goalwards.
"Kenny made couple of great saves, I thought his handling was magnificent and that relieved a lot of pressure as there were a lot of crosses into the box and he dealt with them," added Coleman.
"I think Kenny is one of the top keepers in our league and maybe the one above.
"But it is a big bonus that we are safe, it is a big weight off my shoulders. I would sooner be scrapping at the other end of the table and I think we have got a team that merits at least being mid-table."
Maybe next season - at least the manager can start planning now.