RUGBY had played chaos with the pitch at Stockport - and made sure it was a trying experience for Stanley.
Sale Sharks had left little grass on Edgeley Park which meant passing wasn’t the order of the day on Saturday.
And it was Stanley who paid the penalty as they slipped to their second League Two defeat in three games.
Two set pieces once again proved the Reds undoing and both left manager John Coleman furious - especially the second.
County got off to a flyer when Michael Rose curled the ball around the Reds’ wall and it sneaked in to Ian Dunbavin’s right hand side.
But it was the second goal which made the manager’s blood boil after a corner, deep into first half injury time, was headed home by the unmarked Anthony Elding.
While the boss was angry at the way it was conceded - Stanley have let in a number of goals from corners this season - it was the fact the flag kick was allowed to happen which left him fuming.
The referee had held up the board to say there was a minimum of one minute of injury time and that had passed.
"We should have dealt with the corner but we shouldn’t have had to deal with it," said the Reds boss.
"A few weeks ago at home we were winning 1-0 and we got a corner after the stoppage time had elapsed and the referee blew for half-time.
"I went on record and applauded him for it and said it doesn’t happen often enough. Once time is up, it is up.
"He put up a minute and then decided to let them take a corner two minutes in which is wrong.
"And we were punished - but we should still have defended it. That was the killer blow."
The last time Stanley came back from 2-0 down to win was against Northwich in the Conference Cup in March 2005 so it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
And they just couldn’t threaten the Hatters’ goal after the break in what was a game where the Reds never really got going.
Coleman had made changes bringing Robbie Williams back into the starting eleven while new signing Mark King, from Blackburn, got the nod at left back and showed some good touches.
And while the third minute goal dealt Coleman’s quest for clean sheet a blow - it was the ninth game in which they couldn’t shut the opposition out - Stanley had opportunities to get back in it.
Record signing Ian Craney was guilty of trying to curl one effort into the top corner when he got the ball into a good position - but instead it didn’t test goalie Conrad Logan.
And the keeper could watch Roscoe Dsane’s strike fizz wide after the striker had got the ball with only Logan to beat.
From then on, the Reds were limited to long range strikes with Jay Harris, Dsane and Andy Procter all finding the safe arms of the County stopper.
Andy Todd and King were linking well on the left wing but the final ball was lacking as the home defence crowded the Reds’ out.
And County always looked dangerous on the break with their awkward striker Liam Dickinson testing the backline with his pace - although he never really caused Dunbavin problems.
Then the one minute went up, County pressed and got the corner.
Debutant Leon McSweeney curled it in, Dunbavin and Mark Roberts were both left grounded as they went for the ball while ex-Stevenage hitman Elding had a simple task to head home his 12th goal of the season.
Coleman was hoping to rally his troops at half-time and, if Paul Mullin had got his head to Harris’ cross one minute after the interval, it might have been different.
But instead Stockport got behind the ball, looked solid and hardly gave Stanley a sniff.
Coleman changed his strikeforce putting returning Lee McEvilly on and Leighton McGivern for Dsane and Mullin but they couldn’t conjure up anything to end a disappointing day for all concerned with the Reds.
"I don’t think either team really came out for the second half," said Coleman.
"It was a scrappy affair which suited them and we huffed and puffed without making any clear cut chances like we did in the first half.
"Then we had had three or four gilt edged chances but never took them.
"That is worrying and the other things is that we have had conceded five goals in two games and our keeper has not had a save to make - of any description whatsoever.
"That includes 30 yard long shots or pea rollers he has had to pick up but we have still conceded five goals - that is a worry."