HALIFAX boss Chris Wilder said the first half of the season is like qualifying in Formula One - you get your position on the grid and then it's take off from January.
And although it was a bit stop-start at the Shay for Stanley on Boxing Day, they are the ones who currently hold pole position and are looking to get off to a flying start in the New Year.
The Reds did look like they may backfire on Monday as their six league game winning streak almost came crashing to a halt despite a Rommy Boco manoevre giving them the lead.
But Gary Roberts finally found top gear one minute from time to make it honours even and set up the re-match at the Interlink on Monday when Stanley will look for three points to race ahead and leave the chasing pack behind.
Manager John Coleman admitted he always tipped his top scorer Roberts to smash home a goal especially when Stanley were awarded a late 20 yard free kick.
"I could honestly see Gary scoring, I did fancy him as he is in that zone at the moment where, if he is not playing particularly well, he is always capable of making something happen and he did again," said the boss.
"But we didn't get our flair players on the ball enough. That is the quietest I have seen Ian Craney in a long time but the lad has been magnificent this season so I guess he is allowed one ineffective game in a while. But unfortunately all our so called flair players had an off day and it was difficult to get ourselves going."
It was promotion-chasing Halifax, who are unbeaten at home, who were quickest out of the blocks forcing a superb one handed save from Rob Elliot in the second minute after frontman Darren Forrest looked certain to score with a 10 yard shot.
Stanley were struggling to string a passing move together with a Craney shot which was nearer the corner flag and a Steve Jagielka cross the only things to come near Birmingham loan keeper Adam Legzdins in the first 20 minutes.
As expected, former Red Rory Prendergast, who left Stanley to join league side Blackpool but has gone on loan to Town to get some games in, was a threat on the left but Phil Edwards was equal to him.
And then Stanley opened the scoring thanks to a superb piece of skill from Benin international Boco. Craney found him with an accurate ball into the box, the striker spun round and fired low and hard down the centre of the goal to give the Reds a lead somewhat against the run of play on 27 minutes.
It showed how much it meant to the Frenchman in that he ran all the way to the other side of the ground to celebrate with the strong travelling contingent.
And the table toppers could then have punished the Yorkshire side again when a Roberts ball split the defence on 40 minutes and Paul Mullin raced free into the area. But Legzdins just got a foot onto his shot - although the referee Michael Oliver amazingly gave a goal kick.
Then the Reds made a mistake just before the half time whistle - and they conceded their first goal in more than 10 hours of football.
It had to be Prendergast the creator as he, for once, got the better of Edwards and raced down the wing and played in a cross which Lewis Killeen dived to get on the end of and it ended up in the bottom of the net. The ex-Stanley favourite was then lucky to escape what would have been a second booking after celebrated on his own in front of the visiting fans.
The goal seemed to stun the Reds even though they had the break to recover as Halifax then enjoyed a large spell of possession and, for the first game in a long time, Stanley seemed to struggle going forward with things not coming off and Halifax were first to most balls.
Craig Midgley had a free header from a corner but it was just over the bar while Forrest fired into the side netting following a flowing move.
And a Prendergast free kick led to the ball bobbling around the area with striker Mullin eventually hooking it clear.
But Stanley do look a threat whenever they go forward - and in between all that Boco had a free header from a Roberts cross but glanced it wide.
However, it was Elliot who continued to be the busier keeper as he did well to touch out an Adam Quinn goalbound header and then, after not conceding a Stanley goal in his first three games, Elliot was picking the ball out of the back of the net again on 68 minutes.
A free kick caught out the Reds defence, Quinn flicked the ball on and substitute John Grant, with his first touch, got there before Elliot and guided the ball into the net.
Prendergast then looked to pile the misery on his former club with a 20 yard free kick which Elliot had to touch over and Grant and Quinn both went for a ball at the far post which thankfully fell nicely into the Stanley keeper's arms.
The Reds were then lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch as Michael Welch had been booked for pulling back Grant and, when he repeated it again on 73 minutes, the referee this time only gave him a talking too much to the defender's relief.
And then picture evidence does show Welch handled the ball in the area minutes later - but the Reds rode their luck as once again the referee was having none of it.
Coleman had introduced Andy Mangan and Peter Cavanagh to the fray and Stanley did then begin to exert some pressure and began to trouble Halifax again.
Anthony Barry could have scored a wonder goal from 25 yards but the keeper pushed the ball out for a corner and then Coleman went for it by putting on striker David Brown on for the last 10 minutes.
And he was instrumental in the equaliser one minute from time after Peter Atherton brought him down 20 yards out.
Mangan grabbed the ball to take the free kick but Roberts was having none of it and got ready, took a low free kick and it raced through the wall and passed the static keeper.
The Stanley fans behind the goal went crazy and they could have gone Christmas crackers one minute later when Mangan got the ball eight yards out and volleyed it goalwards - only for Legzdins to pull off a stunning save at the near post to deny the Reds what would have been a shock three points at the death.
"In the end we could have won it," said Coleman. "But I thought we could have put the game out of sight in the first half. After a ropey start we got on top and looked comfortable.
"Rommy got further up the field for his goal as he had been coming too deep and that didn't suit the way we wanted to play.
"Then it was a sloppy goal to concede on the stroke of half time. We've got players out of position and you don't expect someone to score with a diving header just inside the box.
"That gave them the impetus and, give them their due, they came out in the second half and for long periods they dominated but we have got lots of belief in our side and in the end we could have won it."
With Grays losing on Tuesday, that point could be crucial and Stanley will now be looking to rev it up and race further ahead to reach the chequered flag first at the end of April.