SAFETY in League One is always the aim for Accrington Stanley, but as they pass the half season mark, should they be aiming higher?

Defeat to Rochdale on New Year’s Day may have ended their seven game unbeaten run, but there is cause for plenty of optimism at the Wham Stadium.

John Coleman’s side currently sit eight points clear of the drop, and seven points shy of the play-offs, and have a Trophy last 16 encounter at Fleetwood Town to look forward to on Tuesday night.

After a squad revamp in the summer and also being without key goalscorer Billy Kee, Stanley faced a difficult start to the new season as it took them five games to register their first victory.

Coleman has bemoaned Stanley’s lack of luck this campaign and a late penalty awarded on their travels to league leaders Wycombe Wanderers denied them all three points in September.

However, live on Sky Sports, the Reds showed what they were all about when they handed Ipswich Town their first loss of the season with a 2-0 win at the Wham Stadium.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the campaign so far was the thumping 7-1 win over Bolton Wanderers at the end of November – proving to be the catalyst for the seven-match unbeaten run.

Rochdale’s 2-0 win over Stanley put an end to that stretch, but not before it lifted the Reds away from the relegation zone and put them into the conversation for the play-offs.

There are still many matches to go in the league campaign, but Coleman and his players will be hoping they can continue to look up the table rather than over their shoulders.

Something that is a big focus for Stanley this season is the Trophy with the prospect of a first Wembley final for the club at the end of that particular road.

Stanley are one of just nine Football League teams who have never taken to the turf at the national stadium and Coleman wants to correct this.

After gliding through the group stage, Stanley once again beat Bolton and now Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town stand in their way of a place in the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, even the most hardened of Stanley fans will not have known much about summer signing Colby Bishop, but the striker come in and been the star man after notching 12 times so far this campaign.

Signed from National League North side Leamington, Bishop started slowly as he got to grips with League One action before he opened his account against Sunderland with a penalty.

He has since gone on to add braces against former Premier League clubs Ipswich, Bolton and Portsmouth.

The 23-year-old is currently sidelined with a back injury, but Coleman will be hoping his key man will be back in the coming weeks.

As we all know, the new year means the opening of the winter transfer window and Stanley are not shy of doing some business at this time of year.

With Sean McConville ruled out for the rest of the season and Bishop having been struggling, the Reds will be in the market for a forward-thinking player as they look to keep their goal difference on the positive side of things – much to the delight of manager Coleman.

Keeping hold of key players is also important for the Reds, right-back Callum Johnson the subject of a bid from Championship side Preston North End this time last year.