STANLEY'S title credentials were dealt a severe blow last weekend in the north east when a rejuvenated Gateshead romped to a 5-1 victory at the International Stadium.
The fourth bottom Tynesiders were second best in the opening half hour with John Coleman's side taking a deserved 26th minute lead.
But the Reds never recovered from two defensive howlers in the space of six minutes that turned the game and gave Gateshead an interval lead.
And when a rush of blood saw full back Robbie Williams sent off for reacting violently to Paul Thompson's 43rd minute lunge in midfield Accrington were left with a mountain to climb.
However the manner of their second half capitulation hardly befitted a table topping team with Nationwide Conference pretentions.
The defeat was Stanley's heaviest of the season and Gateshead's best win after the game had been given the go ahead following an early morning pitch inspection.
There were hopes that the malaise that has affected Stanley on their travels may be brought to an end when the home side were forced on to the defensive.
Lutel James was Stanley's top performer throughout and he fired an early warning when he got goalside of Gateshead defender Ben Cattanach only to shoot wide from a tight angle.
A quick break following a Gateshead corner then saw Jamie Speare's long throw release Rory Prendergast on the right. His measured cross found Andy Procter who got between two defenders to plant a 10-yard header that struck Jon Kennedy's left hand post.
It was no surprise when Accrington immediately took a 26th minute lead through the dangerous James. Speare's long kick did the damage on this occasion with James holding off the challenge of Cattanach and twin central defender Rob Jones to shoot beneath Kennedy.
Gateshead had hardly threatened when Speare, under no pressure, failed to gather David Colvin's low cross and stand in captain Jones smashed the loose ball into the roof of the net. Jones had to get back to block a James effort from just in front of the line before Stanley again pressed the self destruct button.
Another Colvin left side cross saw Jonathan Smith slice an attempted clearance into his own net to give the Tynesiders a shock lead.
Three goals in eight minutes had brought the game to boiling point and it simmered over when Williams threw a punch at Thompson and was red carded by Scarborough referee Richard Hewitt.
Coleman made changes at the break with the poorly Andy Gouck and Dean Calcutt making way for the introduction of Simon Carden and Russell Payne. The moves however failed to have the desired affect as a buoyant Gateshead called the tune.
On loan Carlisle striker Michael Dickinson fired over from close in following another Speare fumble before two goals in two minutes put the game beyond Accrington.
Steve Harrison headed yet another Colvin cross into the path of the unmarked Willie Moat, and the veteran striker comfortably headed past an exposed Speare.
Stanley were then in disarray when Dickinson atoned for his earlier miss with a great finish from the corner of the box.
Accrington were now on the ropes and only a fine save from Speare prevented the lively Colvin from adding a fifth goal.
It turned out to be only a temporary reprieve however as the former Sheffield United youngster raced clear from half way in injury time to complete the rout.
The Reds' loyal following remained defiantly vocal at the final whistle but Stanley need to find a solution to their away day blues if they are to win the championship for the first time.