It was apt that one of Stanley’s longest-serving players proved to be their derby hero against long-term rivals Morecambe.
Peter Murphy came through the ranks at the Store First Stadium and understands how much victory over the Shrimps has meant to the Stanley fans over Conference and Football League years.
Managers, players and even stadiums have come and gone but midfielder Murphy has been there at the 12 previous League Two fixtures where Morecambe have failed to overcome the Reds.
And this time the 23-year-old played a vital role with the last-gasp winner as Stanley made it an unlucky 13 for the Shrimps – and Murphy headed straight for the overjoyed visiting fans to celebrate.
Not one to hide his emotions, Murphy has often cut a frustrated figure during Stanley’s difficult start to the season, and he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to enjoy a valuable derby winner.
Manager James Beattie remained calm after the match but Murphy’s goal had him jumping around the technical area as it could prove pivotal in turning around Stanley’s season.
“We know Peter can do that,” said Beattie. “When the ball hit the back of the net, I could believe it. Peter has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. He did miss a similar chance in one game this season but he struck it well.
“I have told the lads to enjoy the win and savour that experience, and remember what it feels like as it will help them in the future.
“It’s our first league win away from home against a good side. It was always going to be tough coming here and dealing with their aerial threat but I am delighted.”
Few outside the Stanley camp gave them much hope of victory with Jim Bentley’s side up among the promotion challengers.
Stanley had just celebrated their first league win of the season against Bristol Rovers in midweek but the odds were heavily stacked in Morecambe’s favour as, despite losing 3-0 at Cheltenham four days earlier, they remained unbeaten at the Globe Arena.
Beattie kept faith with the same starting XI who saw off Rovers and his side were immediately on the front foot, with both Piero Mingoia and Luke Joyce having early efforts blocked.
The derby atmosphere was boosted by 273 travelling fans but it really warmed up 17 minutes in when Accy striker James Gray went down under a challenge from Andy Parrish clutching his face.
The home fans felt the in-form Stanley striker had over-reacted and from then on Gray was their villain. But for the Stanley supporters he is a hero and, on 19 minutes, the former Middlesbrough man ran onto a through ball into the area.
Morecambe keeper Barry Roche dived on the ball but led with his feet, upending Gray, and referee Mark Haywood pointed to the spot.
It was the first penalty awarded to the Reds this season and Danny Webber kept his cool to tuck it straight down the middle for his second Stanley goal.
“It was a definite penalty,” Beattie said. “James was lucky not to get badly injured and then Webbs had a lot of time to think about it but he is confident, he is our designated penalty taker, and he did well.”
It was a dream start for the Reds and had the home fans getting increasingly frustrated while the Stanley supporters were dancing.
The game was still tight and Morecambe did have a chance to equalise but Stewart Drummond ballooned the ball over in a decent position.
The Shrimps felt they should have had a spot-kick after Nicky Hunt tangled with former Red Padraig Amond on the edge of the area, but Mr Haywood didn’t respond to the appeals.
Stanley had plenty of possession but Morecambe started to come into it towards the end of the half. Andrew Fleming was caught offside when Marcus Bettinelli tipped his effort over while the Stanley keeper reacted quickly with ex-Accy loanee Jack Sampson bearing down on him.
However, Bettinelli couldn’t keep the ball out of the net five minutes after the restart. It was a scrappy goal, with Bettinelli blocking close-range efforts by Fleming, then Drummond, before Sampson finished it off.
From then on it was end-to-end and tense, with Lee Naylor forcing a save out of Roche while home defender Tony Diagne blasted over in a decent position. Bettinelli made a superb save to keep out a point-blank Amond header and one-time Stanley target Robbie Threlfall hit the top of the bar.
The visitors still had their chances with Murphy heading just wide while Beattie introduced George Bowerman for his Stanley debut and the former Walsall striker made a nuisance of himself.
There was plenty of nailbiting from both sets of fans as both teams went for the winner. And it seemed Stanley’s chance had gone when Kal Naismith’s 20-yard effort was superbly pushed away by Roche.
However, in the third minute of stoppage time, there was one last opportunity for the visitors – and they made it count.
Mingoia weaved his way down the left wing to play in a low cross, Morecambe failed to clear and there was midfielder Murphy to stab in his third goal of the season.
Murphy has already played a key part in the Reds’ recent history – but this goal wrote him into Stanley folklore.
STANLEY: Bettinelli 7, Hunt 7, Aldred 8, Winnard 7, Naylor 7, Naismith 7, Joyce 8, Murphy 8, Mingoia 7 (Richardson 94), Gray 7 (Bowerman 79), Webber 7 (Hatfield 71, 7). Subs: Carver, McCartan, Windass, Dunbavin.