Jimmy Bell knows Stanley have to up their game as it comes to the business end of the season.

The Reds have 12 matches left and are currently eight points away from the automatic promotion spots – although they play third placed Plymouth tomorrow and have a game in hand.

Stanley have only collected two points out of the last 12 and they really need to pick up three points tomorrow against the Pilgrims if they are to keep their top three hopes alive.

“There is a real battle for the promotion places as around the top 13 will all think they stand a chance if they can put a run together,” said the Stanley assistant boss.

“The likes of Luton, Cambridge and Carlisle will still fancy their chances and they are all big teams who are capable of putting runs together.

“We know two points out of 12 isn’t good enough and we have to hope that that has been our blip and move on and get the next win. We are still in a very good position and we still believe automatic promotion is achievable.

“We have played really well against Northampton twice, who are likely to be the champions, we went to Oxford and won and we played really well at Plymouth in the away game.

“I still think we are the best team in the league although Northampton are on a fantastic run and they have got the belief and kicked on.

“We have got to get ourselves back to winning ways and set us up for Wednesday’s home game with Wycombe.”

Bell added:  “There is the expectation now and so our latest run is frustrating. We have to make sure Portsmouth is just a blip and we have got to roll our sleeves and win the game tomorrow – or make sure we don’t get beat.

“When we have lost a game we have tended to bounce back with a strong performance and hopefully this will be the case tomorrow.

“We have given the players time off this week to regroup and think for themselves rather than have John and I badgering them all the time. They can then come in and give their opinions as to Tuesday’s performance and we can work on putting it right. We want to put it right.”

Stanley still have promotion-chasing teams Wycombe, both home and away, Leyton Orient and Cambridge to play as well as Plymouth.