Lancashire FA Marsden Cup
THE three points would have been nicer over Conference rivals Morecambe but still the Lancashire FA Marsden Cup victory gives Stanley a huge chance of silverware this season - and a morale boost going into a tough league programme.
With lower division sides Radcliffe Borough, Burscough and Skelmersdale the other Trophy semi-finalists, the Reds are obviously hot favourites to win the cup they last won in 2002.
And while it's not top of the agenda, the victory was a welcome lift against one of their play-off rivals.
And it was especially a good boost for Lee McEvilly who was the cup hero for the second week running.
The hitman fired home the extra-time winner against York last week in the Conference Cup and came up with the goods again on Tuesday. He tapped home the 75th minute winner from a Chris Butler cross and Paul Mullin flick on to give Stanley the upper hand.
Morecambe did play a weakened side as they have a huge FA Trophy game against Lancaster at the weekend. The Reds didn't have that luxury even though Stanley boss John Coleman acknowledged his side have an equally vital league fixture on Saturday.
"Obviously they weren't at full strength as they have a big game tomorrow - saying that, so do we," said the Reds chief. "But I don't think extra time would have been ideal for anybody and they are probably relieved it didn't go to that.
"But, it is good for our confidence that we have won.
"We had a strong word at half-time that we had to be more positive as both sides were really letting the game meander. And if you have a game and you have people paying to watch you, it is only right that serve them up some kind of football attacking-wise.
"And we did in the second half, and made a host of chances and luckily we took one."
The Morecambe legend admitted after the game: "It is always nice to win anywhere but I have got a lot of friends here and it is nice to acquit yoursleves. I came to watch them on Saturday and they got a good three points and I am sure they would have rather won that one than this one tonight. But, for us, they put us out of the cup in the final last year so it is nice to get one back.
"Now we obviously fancy our chances as we do against anybody. Sometimes we have let ourselves down but now we just have to keep playing to the best of our ability and we are a match for anybody."
Coleman did drop top scorer Paul Mullin to the bench - it was the first time he hadn't started a game this season, in 34 games.
And McEvilly started up front with Ian Craney backing him up while keeper Danny Alcock got the nod in goal.
And it was a niggly and uneventful opening in front of the 500 fans as the chances were limited in the first half.
Chris Butler had a 20 yard effort saved low by the keeper Ryan Robinson while the goalie held onto the ball at the feet of McEvilly in the early stages.
The game only really burst to life in the 38th minute when Lee Elam dispossed Mike Flynn 35 yards from goal, charged through one-on-one with Alcock but the Stanley shot-stopper did well to come out and deny the lively midfielder.
Craney then had an effort blocked while a Steve Flitcroft looping ball into the area was held onto well by Robinson under the challenge of McEvilly.
But they were only half-chances for the Reds while, on the stroke of half-time, Garry Thompson had a free header from a Jamie Heard right wing cross but he amazingly headed wide.
McEvilly did find the back of the net after the break but he was ruled off side while Robbie Williams headed over before Coleman then made a double substitution. On came Mullin and Paul Howarth to add to the attack.
And it seemd to boost the Reds as the game livened up.
Perkins, Thompson and Wayne Curtis offered a threat for Morecambe while McEvilly was kicking himself he didn't do better on 66 minutes when a Rory Prendergast free kick found him unmarked in the area but he headed over from six yards out.
McEvilly then turned provider setting up right winger Howarth who charged into the area but blasted over while the sub had another go after Prendergast sent him through but his weak shot was straight at Robinson.
Then finally came the goal which changed it when a Butler ball in, was flicked on at the near post by Mullin and McEvilly raced onto it before Chris Blackburn and tapped it over the line - it was his 12th Stanley goal in all competitions.
Shrimps boss Jim Harvey tried for an inspired change with a triple substitution on 78 minutes but it was the Reds who could have put the tie beyond doubt.
McEvilly almost raced onto a Butler ball in but couldn't connect while Prendergast charged into the area in a one-on-one with the keeper but Robinson did enough to get a touch to his effort and forced it inches wide.
But Morecambe did seem unlucky in injury time when a Lee Dodgson free kick caused chaos in the Stanley area with Danny Carlton getting the ball six yards out. The Reds were throwing their bodies in front of the ball as he tried to get a firm shot in and there was a big appeal for hand ball - but nothing was given and the whistle went to the relief of the Reds.
"We rested Paul (Mullin) as it was just one of those things," said Coleman, "Paul has had a long hard season, a lot of time playing up front on his own so he deserved a rest.
"He has come on and been instrumental in our winning as he has held the ball up awell and brought people into plau. That's what Paul is all about and he's brobably the best in the league at doing it."
And he had words of praise for his goal hero McEvilly.
"Lee is having a go at the moment. He has got a new lease of life as he has gone back up front. He wasn't so good in the first half and he was a different player in the second half. And he could have had four or five. When he is in that move he is difficult to stop."