STANLEY begun 2009 with a defeat to Rochdale but relegation was never really an issue with Luton, Rotherham and Bournemouth all starting the season on minus points.
As it happened, both Rotherham and Bournemouth made up their deduction with Chester relegated along with the Hatters.
The Dale game, while memorable for the wrong reasons with another Adam Le Fondre penalty helping to see off the Reds, did mark the league debut of winger Chris Turner who impressed and won himself a two-year contract in the summer.
The Reds were battling in the lower half of the table and their first win of the year didn’t come until January 27 when a Jimmy Ryan goal against Morecambe made it two wins in 10 games.
Players came – John-Paul Kissock on loan from Everton, Craig Lindfield from Liverpool and Sean McConville late in the transfer window from Skelmersdale – while Andy Procter was linked to Macclesfield and Rochdale.
The Reds came close to a big scalp in Brentford but a 94th minute equaliser left John Coleman fuming as the Bees went top of the league. The crowds continued to be poor – just 1,111 on for that game.
And Stanley continued to throw away points with no love lost at Bournemouth on Valentine’s Day as Procter skied an 80th minute penalty before the Cherries scored an 86th minute winner.
Then followed Daggers keeper Tony Roberts saving a 90th minute penalty from Procter – it just wasn’t going Stanley’s way.
A seven-game winless run and five hours since a goal made it hard on the Reds before Lindfield got a consolation at Aldershot to break their scoring duck.
The Reds first win in nine games came at Macclesfield – and then Coleman came close to the Manager of the Month in March with wins over Port Vale and Exeter following.
But the shock news during that month was the loan move of record appearance holder Paul Mullin to Bradford.
The Stanley stalwart was snapped up as the Bantams chased promotion with Stanley effectively safe. In return, just before the loan deadline, Michael Symes, Adam Kay and goalkeeper Zac Hibbert all came to the Crown Ground.
All were bit part players though as Stanley picked up wins here and there – Darlington was one and, when they beat Grimsby on Easter Saturday, the Reds were confirmed as safe.
That Grimsby game though was the first time Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams played since their betting charges broke – and it was a mixed reaction by the fans to the two long-servants.
Defeats to Chester and Brentford followed before a Grant wonder goal against Chesterfield in the penultimate game of the season took the Reds to 50 points - they wanted to get to 51 so Coleman could continue his year-on-year improvement since he took charge of Stanley 10 years ago.
The final game was against Bury with Cavanagh hitting the crossbar from a penalty and the Shakers winning but missing out on the play-offs by one goal.
Stanley finished the 2008/9 campaign in 16th place, one higher than the season before but with one fewer point.
The summer saw long servant Williams leave the club in light of the betting scandal while Cavanagh trained with the Reds until he too was banned by the Football Association.
Coleman, meanwhile, set about improving his squad with all contracts, except Mullin and McConville’s, up for grabs.
Phil Edwards, Turner, Ryan and Procter all signed two year deals while Coleman snapped up Dean Winnard (Blackburn), Luke Joyce (Carlisle), Symes (Shrewsbury) and Billy Kee (Leicester, loan). They also took keeper Alan Martin from Leeds after Kenny Arthur switched to join rivals Rochdale despite being offered a new Reds deal.
After a week at an army camp in their pre-season preparations, Coleman hailed his squad as "the fittest and best since we have been in the league" and the opening day defeat at Rotherham with a late goal - which was something repeated in the first half of the season - was hard to take.
And, despite a victory over Lincoln, defeats to Northampton, Aldershot and Shrewsbury left fears of another relegation battle as Stanley dropped to second from bottom - their lowest ever position.
Unusually for the Reds though, they were doing well in the cups. They only narrowly lost to Championship side QPR in the Carling Cup after getting to the second round for the first time since 2006 and saw off League One side Oldham in the JP Trophy first round.
Mullin left for good to join Morecambe but youngster Bobby Grant was finding the back of the net with his double signalling a first league win at Bury since Stanley returned to the Football League. However at this time the £308,000 tax bill meant off-the-field problems were dominating the headlines.
Kee scored his first league goal against Darlington on a Friday night as 3,228 turned up to help the Reds financial problems while Stanley’s woes continued at Edgar Street. They had never won at Hereford and it didn’t stop with the Bulls chalking up their first win in 16 games.
A 5-3 win over Crewe though sent Stanley into the top half of the table and Grant and Symes were proving goal machines.
Another late goal – this time at Chesterfield – hurt the Reds but they came back with a 4-0 thumping of Cheltenham as they began to turn on the style at home.
And then they got rid of their Rochdale hoodoo with a much celebrated win at Spotland – the first time Stanley had won there since 1956.
However yet again it was overshadowed as the Reds fans marched to Spotland to raise money for the club with the High Court date looming and fans not knowing if the club would be there at Christmas.
An FA Cup win against Salisbury gave the Reds a £17,000 financial boost and that was followed by a victory over Bury as Stanley reached the JP Trophy semi-finals – with the excitement of a trip to former European giants Leeds and three games from Wembley. It was the closest the Reds had ever come to the home of the old Twin Towers even though the dream ended at Elland Road.
Dagenham went top with a win at the Crown Ground but that was their only real slip up as the Reds continue to go from strength to strength.
And this is despite a transfer embargo on the club which has limited them to being allowed to register just 20 players.
The FA Cup draw against Barnet was hard to take with a last gasp penalty but Stanley got their revenge at Underhill.
And wins over Burton, Torquay and money bags Notts County have moved the Reds to within three points of the play-offs with a game in hand.
Symes and Grant are firing on all cylinders and, if the Reds can keep the team together in the transfer window, 2010 could mean Stanley grab headlines for the right reasons.