Jean-Paul Marna was sent off as Kettering Town crashed to another defeat as they went down 4-1 at Blue Square Bet Premier leaders Wrexham.
Ashley Westwood returned to the Poppies as caretaker-manager late on Friday following Mark Cooper’s decision to “step back” from the same role due to the off-field problems.
And Westwood was able to name a reasonably strong starting 11 as Kettering lined up in a 4-5-1 formation.
But it was the leaders, who looked leggy after their brilliant midweek effort against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup, who took an early lead.
Glen Little’s low free-kick into the area wasn’t the best but Aman Verma completely missed it as he attempted to clear and it found its way into the net with the aid of a flick from player-manager Andy Morrell.
The rest of the half was scrappy as Wrexham struggled to find their rhythm while the Poppies were unable to create any clear-cut openings.
Morrell couldn’t quite get on the end of Adrian Cieslewicz’s low cross while Kettering’s only attempt saw Joslain Mayebi easily hold on to Marcus Kelly’s free-kick.
The Poppies started the second half brightly enough but the hosts made it 2-0 eight minutes in when Kettering switched off and allowed Cieslewicz to pick up a short corner. His cross was half-blocked but Mark Creighton was on hand to stab the ball home.
Jean-Paul Marna had a shot blocked as the visitors looked for a quick response but it was game on again after a crazy five-minute spell.
Marna and Dean Keates were both booked for an off-the-ball spat and Marna was then sent off just two minutes later after he was adjudged to have fouled Nat Knight-Percival in an aerial challenge.
That looked like the end of Kettering’ hopes but instead Djoumin Sangare gave them hope with a brilliant strike from distance that beat Mayebi.
But Wrexham took just nine minutes to settle any nerves as Neil Ashton’s driving run and shot weren’t cleared properly and James Colbeck was on hand to hammer home from close range.
Cieslewicz tested Laurie Walker and shot wide before Colbeck rounded the game off with his second and the hosts’ fourth with a good side-footed finish.
Wrexham: Mayebi; Obeng, Creighton, Knight-Percival, Ashton; Harris (sub Colbeck, 67 mins), Keates, Clarke (sub Hunt, 56 mins); Cieslewicz, Morrell (sub Anoruo, 79 mins), Little. Subs not used: Maxwell, Clowes.
Poppies: Walker; Davis, Sangare, Ifil, Kelly; Verma, Meechan, Bridges, Noubissie (sub Pryor, 90 mins), Mills (sub Ralph, 81 mins); Marna.
Referee: Stephen Bratt.
Goals: Morrell (5 mins, 1-0), Creighton (53 mins, 2-0), Sangare (68 mins, 2-1), Colbeck (77 mins, 3-1), Colbeck (90 mins, 4-1).
Bookings: Keates, Marna (both unsporting behaviour), Davis (foul).
Sending-off: Marna (second bookable offence).