Stanley needed a hero – and who better than an academy graduate to boost their survival bid?

Burnley-born Ross Sykes came through the ranks at the Wham Stadium, from age 14, and has really made one of the central defensive positions his own in this campaign.

And now the highly-rated defender is showing his threat at the other end as he scored his first league double as the Reds moved four points clear of the drop zone.

The 20-year-old has already grabbed two goals this season but his brace in a nervy game against relegation rivals Walsall were probably the most important of his career so far.

Sykes admitted it was a training ground routine which came off for the first.

The Reds had started well and got their rewards when Sean McConville’s free kick found the towering Sykes on 11 minutes and he powered the header home.

Pre-match the Stanley players had talked about getting their noses in front at home – something they have only done once since the turn of the year.

And they were in charge, coming close to doubling their advantage but Jordan Clark’s turn and shot went narrowly wide.

It was all Stanley and Sam Finley blasted over from distance on 18 minutes while McConville fired into the arms of Liam Roberts.

Walsall had Martin O’Connor in charge for his first game, he replaced Dean Keates after Keates parted company with the Saddlers last week.

They had rarely threatened but the Reds fell for a sucker punch on 33 minutes.

Stanley lost the ball on the wing and Nicky Devlin cut inside and it was a tame shot which took a deflection to steer the ball past keeper Dimi Evtimov.

Coleman has bemoaned his side’s luck this season and he must have been wondering if it was to be their day again in two incidents before half-time.

Firstly it looked a clear penalty when Callum Johnson had his legs taken from under him but referee Eddie Idlerton gave nothing.

Hot on the heels of that was a McConville free kick and Billy Kee’s bullet header found the back of the net but the goal was disallowed for a push.

Coleman made sure his half-time team talk was of this side not feeling sorry for themselves.

Instead the Reds started the second half like the first, on the front foot, shooting into Clayton End, who were vocal and visual with flags as Coleman had asked.

They continued to create the better chances, McConville curling his effort just wide before Dan Barlaser, recalled to the starting line, headed over at the far post moments later.

But then Stanley got that all important second, keeper Roberts couldn’t keep hold of a McConville ball in and it fell at the feet of Sykes. His first effort was kept out by Roberts but it bounced straight back to the defender who made no mistake.

Clark came close to a third but headed over while Evtimov was a virtual spectator at the other end.

It got worse for Walsall when striker Josh Gordon was booked on 81 minutes – and he picked up his second booking three minutes later to see red.

McConville tried to capitalise but was denied by Roberts as Sykes’ double was enough – and these goals could go a long way ensuring Stanley play League One football next season.