Lee Molyneux’s first half hat-trick earned 10-man Stanley a superb 3-1 victory over table-topping Chesterfield at the Store First Stadium.
The winger scored twice in the opening ten minutes to put the Reds in control but Peter Murphy’s red card after half an hour looked to change the complexion of the game.
However, Molyneux completed his treble in first-half stoppage time and James Beattie’s side never looked under great danger of surrendering their advantage, even when Ian Evatt pulled a goal back with five minutes left.
Beattie made five changes to the side which lost 2-1 at Burton last weekend. Loan signing Adam Buxton made his debut at right back with Nicky Hunt suspended whilst illness ruled out Michael Liddle, Kal Naismith and Shay McCartan so Laurence Wilson, Will Hatfield and James Gray came into the team.
The final change saw Danny Webber start ahead of Kayode Odejayi, who dropped to the bench. He was joined there by youth scholar Max Hazeldine, who was hoping to be involved at some point to make his Stanley debut.
In a whirlwind start to the game, Stanley threatened first with Gray’s wicked cross flashing across the face of goal before a mix-up between Marcus Bettinelli and Tom Aldred saw Gary Roberts free on goal but the former Red stumbled, allowing Dean Winnard to get back and flick the ball clear of danger.
Only three minutes were on the clock when James Beattie’s side took the lead. Molyneux’s free-kick from the right hand side was driven in low and it evaded everybody to creep into the bottom corner past Tommy Lee.
There was no let-up in intensity as Armand Gnanduillet side-footed a glorious chance wide from 6 yards after collecting Roberts’ centre.
Stanley went up the other end of the field immediately and won a penalty as Hatfield was brought down by Ritchie Humphreys. Danny Webber took the spot-kick but Lee guessed right to save his effort. Molyneux, though, was on hand to convert the rebound off the underside of the bar and double the advantage.
The winger thought he had a hat-trick when he fired through Lee’s legs but Murphy was offside in the build-up so the joy was short-lived.
Chesterfield were trying to get back into the game and almost did when Bettinelli’s save from Gnanduillet found its way to Roberts, who could only hit the debutant Buxton on the line.
The Reds were then handed a tough blow to their hopes of winning the game as Murphy was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Dan Gardner and was sent off with the Chesterfield man taken from the field on a stretcher.
That injury meant that there were seven minutes of added time at the end of the first half and the home side made the most of that time to grab a third goal with Molyneux completing a hat-trick.
A week short of a year since his previous treble against Barnet, the 25 year-old slid the ball past Lee with his right foot after pressure from Webber and Hatfield forced Sam Morsy into playing a poor pass across the face of his own penalty area.
With the referee about to blow for half-time, Ollie Banks lunged in on Gray, sparking outrage amongst the Stanley players with skipper Luke Joyce the most vocal protester. The two sides went into the break at each other’s throats after an incessantly entertaining and breathtaking opening half.
Stanley assistant Paul Stephenson and Chesterfield boss Paul Cook were sent off for their part in the fracas and were absent from their respective dugouts at the start of the second half.
Inevitably, it was the visitors who were making most of the running with their one-man advantage, but they could not transform their dominance and territory into clear-cut chances with Aldred, making his 50th consecutive appearance at centre back, outstanding.
Paul Cook threw on Jay O’Shea and Eoin Doyle with just over half an hour remaining in an attempt to rescue something from the game. First-half substitute Richards tried his best to reduce the deficit but his header was into the side-netting.
Stanley eventually found an opportunity to push forward and Molyneux looked to add to his treble with a strike from the edge of the area but it flew wide of the target.
Banks thought he had one back for the Spireites but his finish was ruled out for offside before he volleyed wide from 25 yards.
Ian Evatt, playing as an auxiliary centre forward, nodded wide at the far post under pressure from Aldred before pulling one back for the league leaders, sweeping home after Richards knocked a cross into his path.
As the clock ticked into five minutes of injury-time, the visitors piled on the pressure but Banks put a hat-trick of efforts wide of the target from distance.
O’Shea curled the last effort of the game onto the roof of the net as the Reds held on for a massive three points and their first home success since the 2-0 win over Fleetwood in November.
Stanley: Bettinelli; Buxton (Atkinson 70), Aldred, Winnard, Wilson; Hatfield, Murphy, Joyce, Molyneux; Gray (Odejayi 70), Webber (Windass 46).
Subs not used: Dawber, Naismith, Hazeldine, Bowerman.