Billy Kee’s eighth goal of the season secured a much-needed win for Stanley at Crewe Alexandra.
It was a scrappy goal with Kee’s 43rd minute header squirming through the arms of keeper Ben Garratt but it didn’t matter to the Reds with the win all-important.
It was Stanley’s first League Two win since mid-October – 10 league games – and gives them some breathing space from the bottom two and ensures they end 2016, the year they narrowly missed out on automatic promotion, on a high.
Mid-table Crewe started on the front foot with their best chance an Oliver Turton cross which unmarked Chris Dagnall should have done better with in front of goal.
At the other end Garratt failed to keep hold of the ball and Shay McCartan pounced but could only find the side netting.
Minutes later a Mark Hughes looping effort was hooked off the line as Stanley started to find their feet – and they then created the better chances.
A Sean McConville dangerous cross was cleared with the resulting corner rifled over the bar by McCartan.
Matty Pearson also headed over from a corner while Kee had two good headed chances with Garratt denying him once and the other was over the bar.
Crewe were still a threat though without testing keeper Aaron Chapman. Unmarked captain Harry Davis headed wide from a corner while pacey Alex Kiwomya raced free down the wing before his dangerous cross was cleared by Pearson.
Stanley opened the scoring in the 43rd minute when McConville’s corner found the head of Kee and Garratt couldn’t keep hold of the header which rolled into the bottom corner of the net.
Seamus Conneely was close to a second just before half-time but his fierce strike was just wide.
There were limited chances for both sides in the early stages of the second half but Crewe had a great opportunity to level when George Cooper raced through but was denied by the legs of Chapman.
John O’Sullivan headed wide in a good position for Stanley and then, at the other end, Chapman denied Alex sub Callum Ainley an equaliser with his legs and the ball came out to Cooper who fired into the side netting.
It was tense but Stanley held on for victory with plenty to build on in 2017.