Tom Beere broke Stanley’s hearts in injury time but there is still all to play in the League Two play-off semi-final second leg against AFC Wimbledon.
The substitute fired low into the net in the 92nd minute after a goalmouth scramble but it did take a superb last ditch save from Kelle Roos to stop Shay McCartan levelling for Stanley.
The woodwork denied both Stanley’s Tariqe Fosu and Wimbledon’s Ade Akinfenwa in the second half and the sides will now battle it out at the Wham Stadium on Wednesday for the right to play Plymouth or Portsmouth at Wembley.
John Coleman made two changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Stevenage in the final match of the regular season with Sean McConville and Scott Brown starting in place of Reading winger Fosu and Brad Halliday.
The first real chance fell to the Dons top scorer Lyle Taylor on six minutes who fired across the goal and just wide of the far post.
And Tom Elliott wasn’t far off with a header on 11 minutes as Wimbledon took charge early on.
Stanley’s first decent chance came on 20 minutes when Josh Windass played in a cross but Billy Kee could not find the target with his header.
The Reds were passing the ball around well and Windass tried his luck with a 20-yard free kick on 30 minutes but it was over the bar.
Chances were at a premium though as both sides battled hard and cancelled each other out.
The second half started in the same vein with plenty of effort and energy but neither goalkeeper was tested in the opening 15 minutes.
McConville made way for Fosu on 57 minutes while Akinfenwa came on for the Dons a minute later.
And Fosu came close to breaking the deadlock on 62 minutes when, after good work from Kee, the wideman got the ball to the left of the area but Roos and the post denied him.
Dons sub Akinfenwa then made a nuisance of himself and his goalbound effort was deflected over by Tom Davies on 72 minutes while Jake Reeves fired just wide as the Dons looked to make home advantage count.
But Stanley were still a threat with Kee’s drive just wide and this was his last action as, after a clash of heads minutes earlier, Terry Gornell came on for the final 12 minutes.
There was a big appeal for handball by Davies in the Dons area which referee Steve Martin waved away while Coleman put on Shay McCartan for Piero Mingoia in the final four minutes.
However it was Akinfenwa who then came the closest when his effort rattled the woodwork before a grandstand finish in injury time which saw Beere scramble home and McCartan denied.