Given the size of their budget and infrastructure, not to mention their storied and turbulent history, that Accrington Stanley even gained promotion to League One is remarkable, that they did it as champions of League Two seemed absolutely stunning, and their performances since stepping up to the third tier of English football for the first time since reformation in 1968 have been just as impressive.
Coming into the season, on a budget that would have been considered small in League Two, Stanley were expected to struggle, not helped by the loss of several key players from that League Two title winning squad, with goalkeeper Aaron Chapman heading to Peterborough and Kayden Jackson and Janoi Donacien, who has since returned on loan, joining Ipswich.
Despite everything, Stanley acquitted themselves admirably from the off, and after an eye opening defeat at home to Gillingham on the first day of the season, Accy went ten unbeaten to enjoy the heady heights of the playoff places. Though that hasn’t lasted, and few saw it existing in the first place, those points that got them could yet prove crucial in the fight for survival.
With that early season form having somewhat fallen away, John Coleman’s side now find themselves engulfed in the maelstrom of the bottom half of a league table covered by just eight points. Amongst that battle, Stanley still find themselves in fourteenth position, four points clear of the drop following a vital win at Wycombe on Tuesday, handing them a position enviable to so many of those below them.
With the visit of Rochdale, one of those looking jealously at Stanley from 22nd position, to the Wham Stadium on Saturday, Accy have another opportunity to pull clear of the relegation zone and secure a second season in the third tier.
Whatever happens, John Coleman and his side can be proud of what they have achieved this season, just setting foot in this decision was unexpected, the early season playoff position was a shock, and many will see having a chance of simply staying in the division come the end of the season as an achievement. Stanley have done that, but it is unlikely they will enjoy it the job is well and truly done.